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This week in viral: The epic fails & wins of April Fools' brand jokes

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It’s all about marketing, even during a non-holiday like April Fool’s Day. From big names like Samsung to unknown brands, everyone has seen that producing TV ads, social media campaigns, quirky unrealistic announcements or even a clearly photoshopped image can help a brand name go viral, for better or for worse. Even some reputable organizations and departments are joining in the celebration of this day in a wholesome kind of way, hopefully.

But the trick, as with any joke, is to be tasteful. How can you avoid offending anyone when that’s the “name of the game” during April Fool’s Day, aside from conducting an extreme prank that leaves prankees feeling like, well, fools?

Well, I guess it all pays off because some news outlets have picked up some of these stories as “real things/announcements/services/products.” And some of these fake products seem very cool. Some brands even released their jokes a day before, on March 31, 2015.

Did you play any pranks or jokes on your employees, family, friends or clients? Or did you see any jokes from brands that caught your attention? Leave them in the comments below.

Here are some of the best and worst April Fools’ jokes from brands for 2015.

Epic wins

1. Google Map’s Pac Man, reverse Google and more:

  • An in-browser videogame:
    I feel like Google has come up as No. 1, top of the top, in many lists recently (such as in Forbes Best Places to Work For 2015 or Ethisphere’s Most Ethical Companies), so it’s no surprise that the company, again, tops this list with their mini Pac Man game. The coolest thing? It’s in your Google Maps page, on the lefthand side (below, a screenshot of downtown Denver).  

google pac man
  • Mirror Google:

    It’s reversed Google day at https://com.google/ (screenshot from reverse Google).

reverse google

google selfie

This is a widget for “content reaction selfies.” The idea is that a selfie will be taken with your reaction to whatever you’re reading. Creepy and maybe not that far off from reality. The photo below, taken from Google’s blog, shows a young adult lady looking incredibly sad that her favorite One Direction boy-band singer is no longer part of that band.

 

 

  • Smartbox by Inbox:
    Mailmen everywhere rejoice! A new kind of intuitive mailbox is here.

Esurance’s “Presurance” predicts fender benders

We’re pretty sure that this fake app car insurance service is not that far off from the future of the insurance industry. How it works: “through precognitive technology” that we think they stole from the movie Minority Report, the app warns the users up to one week before they have a fender bender. It’s an interesting concept, but a more pressing question would be: If you know that you’re getting into a fender bender, is there a way to avoid it?

The selfie shoe

You read that right! It’s a shoe that you can insert your phone into and take a selfie. The video below explains it further.

This fake product is obviously poking fun at the ridiculousness that are selfie sticks which are real things that are being sold right now. I feel that they should’ve made selfie shoes for guys too because we know that they are also part of the selfie-obsessed millennial generation. The ad is so credible, that even the USA Today fell for this fake product (and you can read that here). The selfie shoe was created by a real shoe company based in New York City called Miz Mooz. The buzz around this prank was great enough that their website crashed for a good part of the day!

See also: 10 most influential advisors and investors on social media 2015

nissan

Nissan’s real non-April Fools’ Day campaign

Some people decide to make outlandish claims during a day like April Fools’. Nissan took it further, making what would seem impossible or wacky claims, then proving that, in fact, they have accomplished said things.

For example: Nissan has a glow-in-the-dark Leaf (their electric car) and is going to develop and deploy “autonomous drive vehicles” space by the end of 2015 with NASA. Look at some of their tweets, styled in photos and text as if they were published in a National Inquirer cover.

Fetch, the new poofume for dogs

How many times have you seen the Cool Waters or Brad Pitt’s Chanel No.5 perfume ads? This fake dog perfume, called Fetch and made by a website dedicated to dog news called 3MillionDogs.com, makes fun of all those slow-motion, black and white fancy perfume TV ads. Now, if I had a dog, I don’t know if I would buy this poofume for him. See the poofume ad below.

Unleashed by Petco: dog selfie stick

Some people actually thought that this product was a real thing and rushed to Petco to buy it, only to find out that … April Fools’! At least this selfie stick didn’t feature yet another self-absorbed young lady. The photo to the left is their fake campaign.

dog selfie

UK’s Domi-NO-Driver 

Leave it to the British and their quirky sense of humor to come up with something that might exist soon: a robot called the Domi-NO-Driver that delivers happiness, I mean, pizzas.

Jimmy John’s drone delivery

jimmy john

Well played, Jimmy John’s! This idea might become our reality in the near future.

After all, Amazon might be delivering packages by drone soon…very soon… Now, if it’s a hot sandwich, is it going to arrive hot? That’s a valid concern, right?

The fast food company released their clearly photo-shopped image via their Twitter account.

PlayStation Flow

For those of you who aren’t into video games, know that this invention is poking fun at Oculus Rift, which is a real headset that gamers wear to be fully immersed in a virtual reality game. PlayStation takes that virtual reality experience a bit further with these fake underwater gaming wearables. Who knows, maybe they’ll end up really making them too!

Recreational outdoor lederhosen

(Editor’s Note: The video below contains strong language) What’s more comfortable than heavy suede leather pants for outdoor activities? Nothing. That’s exactly what lederhosen are, other than perfectly crafted pieces of artistry for men. We bet that hipsters everywhere will be buying these for real.

Samsung Galaxy BLADE edge, chef’s edition

It’s a phone! It’s a meat cleaver! No, it’s a “smart knife.” Talk about integrating technology and “the Internet of Things.” This fake product combines the Samsung Galaxy smartphone with a chef’s knife, you know, for when you need to use both at the same time, now you have a simple all-in-one product. You can check out all of the fake features in Samsung’s blog here.

samsung blade

Epic fails:

Honda selfie car

Ok, I think we’ve gone too far on this selfie pranking business. And fine, we know that some people (yes, mostly millennials) are obsessed with taking selfies. But this fake Honda ad with an SUV model that includes cameras within the car itself to optimize selfie-taking makes fun of young self-absorbed women (men take many selfies too!) in a way that’s not really funny.

It’s the way that they told the story in the fake ad, the dialog and even the actress’ performance that made it offending, IMHO. What do you think: epic win or epic fail? After all, we are talking about the brand and the ad, so that must be some kind of “win,” right?

 

Tesla model W

tesla model w

This fake Tesla Big Ben watch mocking the Apple Watch product announcement was both an epic win and an epic fail. Tesla, the electric car company owned by billionaire Elon Musk, sent this press release to different media outlets that picked it up as a real product (some even got excited about it).

The buzz even created a slight jump in their shares on April 1st, which lasted a few minutes and then retraced most of that upward move, according to Reuters and Mashable.

This goes to show you the power that a company announcement can have.

The other fake product that they announced, but failed to gather as much buzz, is the Tesla S Ticket Avoidance System and it’s exactly what you’re thinking: the Tesla S model car will activate itself if it senses a “ticket maid” nearby (watch the video below).

Hailo Piggyback app

It’s like the British-Uber app version, but with piggyback rides instead of cars. Awkward…and kind of gross, if you really think about it. Hailo is a real company that created an Uber-like app that uses taxi or licensed cars to transport users. The app and service are available in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Madrid and even Tokyo. Watch the long, drawn-out video of how they came up with it and how it works below.

You can see more of the April Fools’ pranks here: AdWeek, CNNFortune, ForbesIndependent.co.uk, and Mashable.

See also:

4 ways to establish trust in social media

10 prospecting strategies that work

How one financial firm successfully rebranded — and reached millions of consumers in the process