There are very few days of the year that are seen as showcases for brand messaging, and while Super Bowl Sunday is the most prominent example, April Fools’ Day is another rare instance when the internet is actually looking forward to hearing what brands have to say. So which brand pranks this year earned a laugh and which earned a groan from the social media audience? Based on what ListenFirst’s data analytics unearthed during the 2021 go around, here are the Top 6 insights for brands around April Fools’ Day.
Insight #1. If Nothing Else, A Name Change Prank Will Be Talked About
The most high profile brand prank of 2021, was Volkswagen claiming on March 29 it was changing its name to Voltswagen, a full three days before the April 1 holiday. The gun jumping decision was widely panned, after VW stock initially rose around the name change which could lead to a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into manipulating stock with false statements. However, in terms of generating social media interes the bait and switch did have some level of success. Volkswagen earned 3,483 New Followers on Twitter between March 29 – April 1, up from 104 new Twitter followers between March 25 – 28, 2021. Meanwhile in the same time period, there were 37.1K page views of the Volkswagen Wikipedia page, an increase of 480%. While Volkswagen would take back the prank if they could, there appears to be value in a name changing joke, provided it’s actually made on April 1 and not earlier.
Insight #2. Make Jokes That Only Make Sense For Your Brand
Tiffany & Co. gained 17,983 New Fans on social media on April 1 around changing their signature Tiffany Blue color to yellow, while Paddington Bear generated 15.2K Likes on Twitter saying he doesn’t like marmalade anymore. These jokes are extremely simple but effective because they play off the audience’s existing knowledge of a strong brand identity.
Insight #3. Offer Products That Actually Would Be A Good Idea
Lego gained a whopping 105,776 New Fans as they talked up SmartBricks, which are Legos that move out of the way when you’re about to step on them. Duolingo gained 1,850 New Fans on April 1, which was an increase of 1,401 New Fans from the previous day around Duolingo Roll, which is toilet paper that teaches you another language, an idea that definitely would move product, should it ever exist.
Meanwhile, Dunkin’ Donuts got 24,810 responses for a TikTok video showing an arm attachment bag/cup holder that Ben Affleck totally needs. Even Teletubbies pitching TubbyCoin in a Tweet that got 44,367 responses may seem like an absurd idea, but it’s no stranger than real cryptocurrencies like Cthulhu Offerings and Burger King’s Russia’s Whoppercoin. Of course people would buy TubbyCoin.
Insight #4. Make A Clear Connection In Product Mashups
Outback Steakhouse lost -155 social media fans on a day they shared their LipSteak lipstick pitch while Green Giant gained only 15 New Fans on April 1, around their Cauliflower flavored Peeps bunnies joke. It wasn’t overly clear what the connection between lipstick and steak was and when Green Giant has green in the title and Peeps is normally yellow, it seemed strange that they’re talking about white colored cauliflower.
On the flip side of that, Durex gained 2,141 New Fans on the day they posted about a Smart Condom, that counts every thrust. As sex is a form of exercise, a Fitbit joke made sense to their audience. April Fools’ Pranks by brands where two things unexpectedly make sense together are a lot more effective than pranks where two different products make absolutely no sense together.
Insight #5. Don’t Be Randomly Gross
It wasn’t a great year for brands that decided to share disgusting versions of their products. For example while Bud Light gained 967 New Fans on the day they shared pizza flavored Bud Light Seltzer that was actually -681 from how many new fans they generated during the previous day. Meanwhile Gatorade had a net loss of -433 Fans on the day they shared the new Swamp Punch flavor, Velveeta only gained 74 new Fans on the day they shared a post talking about a new Velveeta skincare product, and Heinz Ketchup had a grand total of 4 New social media fans on the day they shared Cravy, which is a ketchup/Ocean Spray cranberry mashup flavor,
Insight #6. QA Test Your Prank With People Outside Your Social Media Team
On April 1, Subway lost -335 net Fans on social media around an April Fools’ Day Tweet that said “we finally did it”. While they quickly clarified that they were just joking, it was less clear what Subway was joking about. It was possibly a reference to a March 31 Tweet saying “we do this together. #RestoreTheSnyderverse” but it’s still not clear what the joke is and the audience can’t be expected to put in that much research trying to figure it out. Just like a standup comedian would never go on television and tell jokes that haven’t already been tested in front of a nightclub audience, social media teams need third party feedback to make sure their prank will actually land as intended.
Looking for more best practices insights to help inform your brand’s social media strategy? Request a ListenFirst demo today!