April fools or April fails?

Many brands have had us fooled over the years. From #MyBigMac to Lululemon’s Spray and Play, we have all fallen victim to April Fools’ Day once or twice. This year proved no different. So, what were our favourite campaigns from 2023?

Let’s start off with MaliBRU and their Do whatever tastes phenomenal campaign.

Malibu and Irn Bru drinkers alike found themselves wishing MaliBRU was no joke, but to much disappointment, the wool had been pulled over their eyes. The collaboration created a drink labelled as the Scottish nectar with the refreshing taste of summer and we can only agree that it sounds like a win.The announcement came via Instagram and received a lot of traction from users second-guessing the legitimacy of the post. You have to be wary on April 1st – who can you trust?

Our second favourite prank of the day came from social media royalty Duolingo.

The language learning platform teamed up with TV broadcaster Peacock to present the most unhinged reality TV show yet – Love Language. The post on Instagram featured an ambiguous caption suggesting that the series might in fact be a product of April Fools’ Day, disappointingly. The trailer for the fake reality show made for a persuasive advert but nonetheless reality show fans will have to settle for binge watching Love Island this summer instead.

These two examples were believable and got us excited about the brands, but some other big names have not had the same success in the past – in fact, they’ve really flopped.

In 1989 Richard Branson, founder of Virgin, took his April Fools’ joke to the extreme. Branson flew a hot air balloon posing as a UFO over the M25 and met early commuter traffic, causing mass panic and ending in the army making an appearance at the scene. Branson thought his space-themed prank would be harmless and funny, but how wrong he was.

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk also put his brand Tesla in the firing line with his April Fools’ Day joke back in 2018. After joking about his own bankruptcy, stocks in his business fell by a shocking 7%. A hard joke to come back from!

April Fools’ Day can be a great opportunity to have fun and play pranks, but brands have to take care not to overstep the mark or create jokes that backfire. We will have to keep our eyes peeled for April 1st 2024… who will fool us next?