The anatomy of a great april fools promotion

Did you know that the word gullible is not in the dictionary?

Bah, dum, bum, crash.  Thank you very much.  I’ll be here all week.  Don’t forget to tip the waitresses.

I knew it was going to be one of those days when my 7 year old started the day with her own April fools joke.  I hope that she sticks with her strength which is sales rather than marketing.  Her delivery was good but her creative strategy was flawed.

After about the 10th fairly obvious gag campaign of the day, I started to think about what makes a truly great April Fools promotion (I’m not calling them jokes as they are often well planned online marketing campaigns)?  Here is my list:

Consistency with brand – The best ones are “on brand” making them truly believable.

Good enough – Some of the promotions are just too “over the top”.  Think about the Google CADIE application listed on their homepage.  Not only did it stick out like a sore thumb but it was just too clever even for Google.

Easy to share – It is simple for the person getting “conned” (I believe the technical term here is sucker) to forward it quickly before he/she has time to realize it is bogus.

Has a great payoff when forwarded – The person who forwards it will suffer great humiliation from friends and coworkers when the obvious hoax is discover.  This also gives the embarrassed a strong incentive to try to “get” someone else (think viral spread).

Mainstream media picks it up – You get bonus points if the media first report it as real news but in the end, this is a PR/viral marketing exercise so any mainstream coverage is a big win.

Just think of it as a viral campaign with a twist.  More than just getting a simple laugh, you need to make sure the forwarder also feels the pain.

Did I miss any other obvious ones?

Author: Frank Days

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