In a world clouded with “fake news”, it is difficult determining fact from fiction. However, when packaged as a deliberate joke, fiction can be fun.
Especially for the most imaginative brands.
While it does not have direct correlation with product sales like Super Bowl ads, April Fools’ Day is the perfect chance for brands to stop taking themselves seriously and woo with utmost entertainment.
For budding brands, April Fools’ is a great way to test target audience limits. In 2013, men’s clothing line Bonobos produced a video for their newest product, the “Girlfriend Jean”. The video posed “a revolution for denim”, where men realized the perfect jean for them was actually their girlfriend’s. The campaign was a huge success, bringing the Bonobos site traffic equal to that of Cyber Monday. Craig Elbert, Vice President of Marketing at Bonobos, noted that the hoax was successful because its aim was “intelligent humor”. Thanks to the use of intelligent humor, Bonobos gained enough traction to create their own women’s line, bringing an entire new audience to their brand.
The Cinderella story of Bonobos has translated to big brands catching onto the trend of intelligent humor. For brands such as Netflix and YouTube, the combination of celebrity and hoax advertising has provided unparalleled entertainment value for their attention seeking audiences.
According to an Exstreamist report, Netflix currently has a 72% share of the US market and is nearing 262 million global subscribers. Also, according to multiple sources over 81% of millennials and Gen Z are subscribed to the platform. An overwhelming amount of the Netflix audience is responsive to spontaneous content that incites raw emotion. In 2016, Netflix capitalized on this fact with a social media campaign promoting a docu-series on the life of John Stamos. Allegedly, Stamos was infuriated with the direction Netflix was going, taking to his Twitter handle to criticize Netflix for botching his brand.
Come April 1st, the scuffle was deemed a hoax, sending these Stamos videos and Twitter rants viral. By April 2nd, Netflix and Stamos were trending on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube and even spread to major online sources such as Adweek, Variety, and People.
As for YouTube, they used intelligent humor by promoting an experiential product crafted by the none other than Snoop Dogg himself. The video released on April Fools’ Day showcased YouTube’s official Head of Comedy, Ben Relles, disguised as the company’s Director of Innovation, introducing Snoopavision. This new product would allow viewers to watch any YouTube video in 360 degrees…with Snoop Dogg. While this stunt was much more obvious, it captivated audiences, causing them to take a second glance at the hilariously bizarre promotion.
When pulled off right, these gimmicks resonate with the brand’s audience, fostering a deeper connection to the content produced.
It is increasingly important to speak a young audience’s language, and April Fools’ Day is the perfect way. Brands that benefit from this holiday are using the perfect celebrity partners to help set aside necessary time for some fun.