April fool's gives brands a licence to be playful

3 min read 02 April 2019

Every year some of our favourite brands drop a new product or service on April Fool’s Day. Whether people forget what the 1st April is all about, or just want to believe that their dreams are coming true, lots of us seem to engage with the jokes! Social Media Account Executive Harriet discusses the brands that were shaking things up (quite literally in some cases!) this April Fool’s – and what this means from a marketing perspective.

So which April Fool’s pranks stuck out for us this year?

A bit like Marmite, dipping your fries in a McDonald’s milkshake is a ‘love it or hate it’ flavour combination. For those that love it, McDonald’s announced #ShakeSauce as a new addition to its current sauce selection. Of course this announcement came with mixed reviews, from those disappointed that this wasn’t going to be a real thing, to those quick to remark about McDonald’s reputation for never having milkshake machines that work, or for being a little on the stingy side when it comes to sauce distribution. Unlike most of the people I saw reply to their announcement, I think I’ll stick to the tomato ketchup!

On the subject of condiments… if mayonnaise wasn’t calorific enough, Heinz decided to announce Crème Egg Mayo. A lot of people like Crème Eggs, and a lot of people like mayo, but I’m not sure anyone would want the two combined! As someone who has given up chocolate for lent, I have already requested to be surrounded by everything chocolate (especially Crème Eggs!) when Easter comes around - but I think I’ll keep the mayo separate for now. Would you give it a try?

With the sunny weather this weekend, like most Brits, the thought of how nice it would be to sit in a pub garden has crossed my mind more than once. The Daily Star definitely knew how to make a lot of Brits happy, and then disappointed, in a matter of seconds with its ‘NHS launches free beer prescriptions for run-down Brits’ headline. The article stated that prescriptions for a free beer would be available for those feeling ‘a little bit run down’ – probably allowing most of the UK to get at least one pint in. For some reason, I don’t think the pub round will be on the NHS any time soon!

The April Fool’s joke that made me laugh the most – and I’m sure a lot of commuters and public transport users hoped was true – is the British Transport Police’s announcement that it would be enforcing a penalty fare of up to £2,000 for eating smelly food items whilst in transit. I’m sure everyone has been stuck on a train at some point while another passenger tucks into their egg mayo sandwich, munches on their tuna pasta or devours their fast food takeaway – and everyone will agree there is nothing more unsociable than the lingering smell! I think a lot of people were disappointed that this announcement was not made on another day.

The first day of April gives brands an opportunity to get a little playful with their social media content and interact with customers in a different way. We don’t always fall for the pranks but if they’re done well, they’ll raise a smile and resonate. It’s a subtle way for brands to use customer insight and behaviour (like the controversial McDonald’s milkshake and fries combo) or demonstrate that they can empathise with customers’ experiences – everyone hates that person on a train who’s taking up too much space with their noise, luggage or unsociable food choices.

Although all the April Fool’s announcements may just be a joke, they can be a great way to create a buzz around your social media channels, interact with your followers, and show a more fun side to your brand. If you’re looking to shake things up with your social media strategy, get in touch with Mobas to discuss things further.