Fool’s Gold: April Fools 2016

April Fools - Pimms

Another year, another April Fools’ Day. This year the brands turned out in their droves again, all attempting to make a joke that could gain enough traction to turn it into a viral sensation. Unlike previous years, there wasn’t one single brand that took the April Fools crown, but there were more than enough hits and misses to populate an article to make you smirk and cringe in equal amounts.

Here are a selection of this year’s April Fools attempts to ponder over:

Churchill: Éau Yes

April Fools - Churchill

This is an example of a brand jumping on the April Fools bandwagon with an idea conceived on a Friday afternoon with zero investment. It’s harmless, but it’s also not very funny. Wordplay is a technique commonly used to generate April Fools jokes and it often leads to throwaway content that clogs up social feeds. A good April Fools gag is one that’s believable, but this is just noise.

Verdict: Miss

Pimm’s: Big Ben

April Fools - Pimms

This is tough to admit, but… I fell for this one. A good April Fools joke often attempts to make it into the day’s media or national news coverage and Pimm’s achieved this with its Big Ben effort.

The idea of sponsoring the clock faces of Big Ben’s clock tower sounds bonkers, but it’s the kind of media first that media agencies seem to be clamouring for at the moment instead of producing clear and logical strategies. This one is funny, gained enough traction in mainstream press, and was believable at first glance (at least for me). It’s amazing what a bit of good image editing can achieve if the idea behind it is clever and fits with the brand’s previous ad strategies – i.e. Pimm’s O’Clock.

Verdict: Hit

Honda: Emoji Number Plates

April Fools - Honda

See: Churchil”s Éau Yes idea with a bigger budget. Honda clearly thought that emojis were an easy way to communicate something cool and funny, but this effort falls flat. Is it believable? No. Does it feel like a joke that somebody who shouldn’t really be tasked with coming up with April Fools jokes came up with? Yes. Here’s what Honda said in their “statement”:

According to Honda, their plans for emoji plates come as a direct response to younger car buyers across the UK who identify with this means of communication much better than older generations.

Verdict: Miss

Carlsberg: The Carlsburger

April Fools - Carlsburger

Alcohol brands usually have a good showing on April Fools’ day and Carlsberg came up with a simple but effective joke this year. The premise was feeding Carlsberg to cows and then making the cows into special burgers.

It’s crude, but could it actually happen in today’s market? Probably. Therefore it’s funny, gained enough traction in the mainstream press, and was believable. A sure-fire formula for a good April Fools joke.

Verdict: Hit


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