For hundreds of years, pranksters across the world have honored the mysterious tradition of April Fool’s Day with hilarity (from the ancient Roman holiday of Hilaria) and jokes. Now with the powerful tool of social media, people crack up millions online on the funniest day of the year. This April Fool’s Day, brands used the silly holiday as a marketing tool to impact their followers – for better or worse.
Perhaps the most well received April Fool’s 2016 prank belonged to the online pastime, neigh, religion, of Netflix, with an elaborate joke involving 90’s heartthrob – and Greek yogurt ambassador – John Stamos. Using both Netflix and Stamos followers, a fake partnership began on April 1st, revealing a documentary on Stamos’s life. A viral leaked Stamos meltdown, a Twitter feud, and ultimately a video apology from leadership at Netflix created an ideal war for social media junkies to obsess over. Much to the delight of their users, Netflix eventually had a “Stamos” takeover.
Obviously the day was all in celebration for April Fool’s, and brought both Netflix and Stamos attention for their antics. Both parties benefitted, and social media surely enjoyed their fun.
Locally, Florida universities jumped at the chance to prank their students and alumni, as Florida International University, and the University of Florida with Florida State University created extravagant April Fool’s Day jokes to go down in history.
Florida International University poked fun at all of Miami, posting a video on their social media of a “new major,” perfect for those looking for “keys to success.” The video, sharing the “305 till I die, Miami Studies” major video was a hit across South Florida, shared over nine thousand times.
At the University of Florida, nine thousand private dollars were used to fund this year’s April Fool’s Day prank. UF president Kent Fuchs and almost 60 others worked together to create a series of videos “combining” UF and Florida State University, creating an uproar among both Gators and Seminoles. The videos, viewed over 400,000 times on Facebook, sparked a dialogue across Florida, as people refused even a joke of the idea. Multiple news outlets picked up the story, like the Tampa Bay Times and CBS Miami.
Unfortunately, not all brands can pull off April Fool’s Day pranks, and even powerhouses like Google can stumble in marketing. Google’s attempt at April Fool’s Day 2016 was more than a fail, creating issues among Gmail users. The joke – known as Mic Drop – caused emails to be hidden from recipients, which is more than a small gag, but rather a problem. Users berated Google, as even people’s job security was threatened by the tool. The entire endeavor really backfired on Google, effectively pranking themselves, causing huge losses for the online empire.
April Fool’s Day is meant to be a light-hearted, silly affair. Some companies can effectively prank their users, but maybe some should stick to Whoopie cushions.