April Fools Day is an event that's perfect for modern media, given the potential for wide reaching mayhem and confusion. With the world currently a place where the unbelievable and the borderline satirical appears to hit the headlines on a daily basis, it's also more difficult than ever before to tell the guff from the genuine, to the extent that, if you read anything online on April 1, you were probably better off taking it with a pinch of salt, lest you end up the laughing stock of the whole pub (don't ask). Anyway, without further ado, here are just a few of the April Fools pranks that caught my attention this year. If you think there are any worthy ones I missed out, please feel free to hit me up in the comments.
This April Fool's Day, many brands decided to change their names for the day in honour of the event, but Marmite and Krispy Kreme went a step above. The former faked changing its name to “Meh-Mite,” referencing the notoriously divisive nature of the snack in a neat, simple way, and the latter fooled many (including the Metro!) into actually believing it was changing its name to “Krispy Cream,” because too many brits couldn't spell or pronounce Krispy Kreme. Classic bants.
Wilkinson's Hot Tub for Birds
As a keen fan of all things crap (I am a frequent customer at The Range) I loved this one from Wilkinson's, and the press release was so on point (when it comes to truly horrendous puns) that I felt I had to include it in its entirety:-
Guarantee your feathered friends aviary good time with Wilko’s brand new Hot Tub for Birds – the ideal garden accessory for bird lovers looking for a modern upgrade to the traditional bird bath. Complete with mini-jets for a truly relaxing spa(rrow) experience, this is the perfect way to attract beautiful British birds into your garden and allow them to play, splash and wash. The flow of bubbles mean it will never freeze in cold weather, offering fresh drinking water all year round - creating an eye-catching centrepiece for any outdoor space.
Big enough to make sure your garden birds are never left owl by themselves and that it never gets hawk-ward, this bubblicious hot tub is sure to attract birds in their flocks. Priced at an affordable £25, plans are already underway to release a bird-friendly bubble bath later this year – the ultimate pampering for your feathered friends.
Neil Fairhurst, Pet Buyer at Wilko, commented: “We’ve got a soft spot for wild birds here at Wilko and know our customers love to make the most of their outdoor space to encourage natural wildlife into their gardens. Hot tubs are the centrepiece for many British gardens, but why should they be reserved for humans? Birds deserve bubbles, too!”
Leave it to Google to create something for a joke that could, if actually released, probably break sales records. The Google Gnome is something I could actually see getting a decent foothold on Kickstarter. Whether that gives you hope for humanity or sends you into a despair spiral will depend very much on your own constitution. I fall very much into the former category and I hope you do too! Google also turned Google Maps into Ms Pacman, of course, but I'm not counting that as a joke because it was actually awesome.
Enjoy Digital launched a fake app this AFD (I'll be abbreviating it from this point hence for obvious reasons), which claimed to improve the chances of Tinder users with a “revolutionary new optimisation service” called Tindermisation. It caught my eye because it's one of those stories that, at a casual glance, could easily pass for legitimate. It's only when you dig deeper that you start to smell the glorious bullshit.
The consultancy themselves explain:
Tindermisation is the first service of its kind, offering users comprehensive management of their profile as well as data-driven solutions to the problems they face when using the app; ultimately increasing their chance of finding love. Responding to some of the most common problems highlighted from a comprehensive study of Tinder users, the service aims to make you look popular, but more attractive than your friends; sound suitably intellectual or moronic, depending on your partner preferences; ensure that you secure the highest volume of matches possible; and that those inevitable first dates go exactly as planned. The service begins with a rigorous personality audit conducted by a qualified TinderScribe who can pinpoint each user’s most captivating traits and selling points as a partner. This is shortly followed by a bio optimisation consultation to help users make the most of their profile. Enjoy Digital’s innovative PicturePimper and FriendFaker tools synchronise with one another to help users strike the perfect balance between group and individual appeal, while the Custom ChatPak First Date Kit is the service’s “pièce de résistance”; assisting users at the final hurdle to help transform “it’s a match!” into something more.
See what I mean when I say it seems plausible at first, but then gets slowly and slowly more obvious as a prank as you read on? Great stuff guys!
Very British Condoms
Durex released details of three “exciting new flavours” to their condom range this AFD. The phoney contraceptives were “chicken tikka masala,” “Sunday roast” and “fish and chips flavours,” which expertly tapped into the rampant and dangerous nationalism coursing through the veins of the UK in the wake of Brexit. The press release read: “Feed your libido and explore deeper sensations with these amazing new flavours. Coated in tasty lubricant consisting of natural flavourings derived from the nation’s favourite meals. The condoms will ignite your sexual appetite and trigger much loved memories all at once. From walking along the sea front enjoying freshly battered fish, to the first mouthful of Grannies favourite Sunday dinner, combine your passion with your love of food for the ultimate sensory experience.”
From the oddly plausible to the downright batshit. Coca-Cola celebrated AFD 2017 by announcing the launch of Coca-Cola Helium, which was marketed (sic) as a standard bottle of coke infused with enough helium to give customers a high-pitched voice after every mouthful. This one was obviously fake, but that didn't stop it from giving me a soft chuckle. The company announced the fake drink with a press release from spokeswoman Kate Miller, which stated: “By carbonating Coca-Cola Classic with a small shot of helium, the drink alters vocal cords by allowing sound to travel faster, and makes them more responsive to high-frequency sounds. This creates the squeaky high-pitched effect on the drinker’s voice. We’re delighted to be launching Coca-Cola Helium this year; it really inflates our range of drinks and lifts our fans spirits. The popularity of Coca-Cola continues to balloon and this new variant is set to be a flyaway success.” If nothing else you really have to admire the commitment to those puns!
Domino's Letterbox Warmer
If there is one fast food brand you wouldn't put it past to actually create something like this, it's Domino's Pizza, but the one thing standing in the way of this letterbox pizza warmer (a sleeve that catches your pizza through the letterbox and keeps it warm) being plausible is this; what happens to the rest of you mail that isn't pizza? The release stated: “The ‘Door-minos’ invention is a must for anyone who wants pizza waiting for them when they get home from a long working day or big night out – or for those who just don’t like answering the door. It is set to be rolled out nationwide from this Saturday 1 April.” Also note that any press release that actually included the April 1 date will always be a hoax nine times out of ten. If it was genuine, no PR company on earth would draw attention to THAT date.
Train Ticket Tattoos
If you are one of the many train users who moan that luddite paper tickets should be a thing of the past, this fake activation (faketivation?) by Virgin Trains should have really hit the bone. The fake video, circulated over the weekend (above), claimed that customers could now get their Tick-Ink train ticket permanently tattooed on their body. John Sullivan, Chief Innovation Officer at Virgin Trains, explained: “We receive hundreds of calls from customers about missing or misplaced season tickets every year and we wanted to provide people with a clever way of always having their ticket on them. What better way than to have it permanently tattooed on their body?” Madness maybe, but it's also just plausible enough to fool the perpetually gullible.
The Literal Pizza Hut Spa Experience
Ogilvy & Mather London treated Pizza Hut fans to the possibility of a literal Pizza Hut. You'll notice there are more than a few puns featured here. What can I say, I'm a simple man. The press release read as follows:-
“Fancy being whisked away to a spa retreat reminiscent of your favourite indulgence? Pizza Hut has you covered with its newly released Spa Retreat. Set in a secluded location the Retreat has been created to appeal to the UK's most passionate pizza lovers with a line-up of pizza inspired treatments. Feeling a little tense? Why not take one of their therapeutic dough Rolling classes to kneed that stress away, you can follow it up by popping into the life-size pizza ovens to sweat out any sins. No good spa would be complete without the addition of a welcome facial treatment; at the spa you can opt for a cooling Hawaiian mask, or for those who like it hot go for the warming pepperoni. After a long day of indulging, head to the hot tub where you can sit back and relax in our custom garlic dip.”
Fresh Frozen Flowers from Iceland
This Iceland gag (which needs no more introduction than the title) actually got my girlfriend, and I was too kind to call her out on it. Sadly, she'll still be waiting on those flowers this time next year.
Honda In-Car Dating App
I struggle to believe anyone would have fallen for this one, but we do live in desperate times and the ubiquity of dating apps on the technological landscape, coupled with the ever-growing availability of digital windscreens mean that this one from Honda (press release below) certainly wasn't beyond the realms of possibility. Right? OK. Now I'm just fooling myself.
“Honda has announced the launch of a new in-car dating app that helps drivers find love at the wheel. The H-Swipe app connects to an innovative digital windscreen and interactive directional ‘s-wipers’, and uses geolocation technology to pinpoint the nearest potential dating candidate. The driver then uses the windscreen wipers to swipe left or right, either accepting or rejecting and moving on to the next eligible suitor. Set to be unveiled in the UK this summer as part of Honda’s latest model, the new technology is a world first and can only be activated when the car is stationary, whether that’s when drivers are stopped at traffic lights, in a parking space, driveway or car park. With research revealing that 80 per cent of millennials struggle to find time to look for love thanks to on-the-go lifestyles, romance-seeking drivers will now be able to download the ‘H-Swipe’ app directly to their dashboard, offering a unique in-car experience helping them hit the accelerator in the realm of online dating.”
More Blue for O2
LIDA London created an AFD piece for O2 that was, as with all the best pranks, actually quite plausible, which might actually be why it didn't get the attention it deserved. #MoreBlueForYou operates on the concept that, as blue phone light apparently stops us from sleeping, O2 would be dialling up the blue light on all their phone messages during work hours in order to keep their customers awake. A subtle gag, but a good one.
SNICKERS revealed this week that their launch of “Sknickers” (a new line of men’s underwear) was actually an April Fool’s Day prank. In a seemingly serious stunt, SNICKERS and agency AMV BBDO announced the “industry-leading product innovation” was the “answer to men’s wellness trends”. The “Sknickers” underwear range would supposedly “hit stores in the coming months” and “offer wearers a more substantial hold”. This week, however, SNICKERS revealed that “You’re easily fooled when you’re hungry” – but reassured viewers that the launch promo by Rankin will be supported by a donation to male cancer charity, Orchid, from the launch of the spoof to the end of Orchid’s Male Cancer Awareness Week (3rd – 9th April). Share the SNICKERS Sknickers posts on social media until Sunday 9th April and SNICKERS will donate £1 for every share to Orchid on your behalf.
Groupon Gin Sauna
Subway Ice Cream
Deliveroo Extreme Delivery
Burger King Whopper Toothpaste
The Petcube Bum
Amazon Echo for Pets
Guaranteed Sun Insurance
World of Tanks Mars
Paddy Power Seahorse Racing
Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer and struggling musician from Kidderminster in the UK.