It’s April Fools’ Day, that special non-holiday when you have to double check the toilet for saran wrap before you sit down… thanks friends. But it isn’t just your pals who will try to make you an April Fool; every brand out there will be sending a press release on March 31st claiming a wild new product or a drastic change to their brand as a whole. Google once claimed that they were going to map the Australian outback by attaching cameras to the heads of kangaroos – they called it ‘Roo Cam’; PETA hated it and we all laughed because we knew it couldn’t be true. But every once and a while those very same brands manage to pull the wool over our eyes, if only until we check the calendar…
BBC’s Flying Penguins, 1998
Flying Penguins, or Miracles of Evolution, was an April Fools’ Day prank orchestrated by the BBC in 1998. The trailer, narrated by Monty Python’s Terry Jones, served as empirical evidence of the theory of evolution. Penguins supposedly had evolved to the point of being able to fly to the dense jungles of South America when it got too cold in Antarctica. Terry warned viewers that they shouldn’t try to find these rare and elusive birds in the jungles, probably for mostly legal reasons. Between the comedian host, the date of the story, and the name of the filmmaker – Prof Alid Loyas, an anagram for April Fools’ Day – it is surprising that the Flying Penguins still ended up on the front page of The Daily Mirror.
Taco Bell Buys the Liberty Bell, 1996
On April 1, 1996 Taco Bell took out a full-page ad in 7 leading US newspapers to announce that they had purchased the Liberty Bell, to reduce the country’s debt, and renamed it the Taco Liberty Bell. Taco Bell let everyone in on the joke at noon that day but not before thousand’s of angry Americans called to yell at the less-than-patriotic purveyor of sub-par tacos filled with ‘almost’ meat. The prank was a total success for Taco Bell; they saw sales increase in excess of $1 million in the two days following the prank.
Scope Bacon Mouthwash, 2013
When Scope announced last year that they would be launching an all-new mouthwash that tasted like bacon but left your mouth feeling and smelling minty fresh the average marketer knew it was a joke – an easy one considering the popularity of bacon infused, flavoured and shaped items on the interwebs. Unfortunately for Scope, North Americans don’t like it when you mess with their bacon and hundreds of people weighed in on the brand’s Facebook Page with their sadness after discovering that the product was not available at their local Walmart. Fortunately for those very same people Baconnaise is a real thing, even if it won’t clean your teeth.
YouTube is Shutting Down, 2013
Google is well known for their excellent April Fools’ Day pranks, from 8-bit Google Maps to Gmail Blue – April Fools’ is Halloween and Christmas all rolled into one for the folks at Google. Last year the team at YouTube announced that the most popular video site in the world would be shutting down because it had all just been a contest to find the best video of all time. The video features Antoine Dodson of bed intruder fame, Charlie the finger biter and David completely sober now, with perfect teeth. While I didn’t believe this one, a quick search on Google will bring up quite a few Yahoo! Answers from people wondering if they will have to find a new way to entertain themselves when work gets boring.
Virgin Launches World’s First Glass Bottomed Plane, 2013
Shared on Facebook to over 57,000 fans, this prank tricked most people into thinking that Virgin would be introducing glass bottomed planes in the very near future. Complete with renderings of the plane, this joke gets passed around on Facebook once every couple of months by someone who believes this to be real. Any prank that can keep tricking people months later even when the blog post has a clear April 1st stamp gets top billing from me. This prank is also the only one that I thought was real.
Do you have a favourite April Fools Prank played by a corporation? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.