Our Favourite 2023 April Fools’ Day Campaigns and the Power of PR Stunts for Brands
6 min read
April Fools is a treasured occasion for many, as a fun-filled day of practical jokes and hoaxes which over the years has been embraced by more and more of the world’s largest brands, helping to ensure its long life.
As a fantastic marketing tool, April Fools presents brands with the opportunity to showcase their creativity, sense of humour, and personality, as well as engage more with their audiences.
To celebrate the holiday, we have put together a list of some of our favourite April Fools’ stunts from this year, and we will be outlining our own top tips on how brands can execute their own creative PR stunts for those looking to get involved in some creative marketing.
Why do brands participate in April Fools?
Considering that April Fools lasts for just one day, it’s important that we first explain why brands are investing their time, effort, and resources into delivering creative April Fools campaigns.
The marketing goals for an April Fools campaign will be noticeably different from the goals for a retail holiday marketing campaign because April Fools is a cultural event that values humour and creativity. This makes it an important marketing tool for any brand looking to increase its brand awareness and audience engagement.
By leveraging Digital PR and social media, brands can amplify the reach of their campaigns and increase their visibility in a crowded market. This serves to differentiate brands from their competitors and aid in building strong brand identities and brand loyalty.
Overall, April Fools’ Day is a unique and important marketing opportunity for brands to showcase their personality, connect with their audience, and generate positive publicity. Over time, this improved engagement and brand loyalty can lead to increased sales and customer retention.
Some of our favourite 2023 April Fools’ campaigns
This year, brands once again did not disappoint, with some seriously creative and clever campaigns that really captured the essence of their unique personalities. With so many brands getting involved, we’ve rounded up our team’s favourite campaigns from this year.
Duolingo – New Reality TV Show
Stealing the show entirely, popular language app Duolingo partnered with streaming network Peacock for an April Fools’ ad about their “brand new” series “Love Language” – a reality dating show where ten of the ‘hottest singles in the world’ meet up in paradise to find love, but none of them speak the same language. Contestants are challenged to do daily language lessons.
The video ad garnered 387K views and over 1,900 comments on Youtube, as well as 67,000 likes on Instagram. An extremely successful demonstration of creative stunts, the campaign generated huge publicity and was featured in the likes of Forbes, Verge Magazine, and Variety.
Tala – Introducing Frontscrunch
Sustainable activewear brand Tala also memorably took part in the holiday, by announcing the launch of their new sculpt, seamless ‘Frontscrunch’ leggings. Designed purposely to #embracethetoe, Tala ‘responded’ to their follower’s wishes by releasing leggings which put your ‘camel toe’ on show.
The campaign had over 20,000 likes on Instagram with 1,957 comments and served to demonstrate the brand’s fun and creative personality. The campaign was clever, original, and relevant to its audience, demonstrating how smaller, more niche brands can also execute shocking and creative PR campaigns.
Caffè Nero – Self-Heating Cups Controlled by App
Targeting its Facebook audience, Caffè Nero duped its followers by promoting its new ‘Self-Heating Cups’ range that is controlled by its app.
The campaign certainly worked to fool its followers, with many of the post’s 207 comments indicating a large consumer desire for the product. Overall, the post achieved 708 likes on Facebook, and is now one of its most engaged posts on Facebook this year.
ISOBEL – Matt Hancock’s Cheddar
April Fools’ Day campaigns are not solely exclusive to consumer brands, as London based creative agency isobel demonstrated when they announced they had been hired by Matt Hancock to help with the launch of his cheese brand: Matt Hancock’s Cheddar – Cheese for the People.
In a fake press release, complete with their own creatives, the cheese was due to launch nationally on April 1st and to be supported by print, social, and an OOH campaign. Overall, the campaign achieved notable press coverage, including a feature in The Daily Mail.
&Sisters – Doggy Period Pants
Sustainable period care brand &Sisters also took part in the fun, by launching their ‘Doggy Period Pants’ – ‘the sustainable period game-changer for dogs as seen in Vanity Fur’.
This campaign is a clever and effective example of how brands can do a creative PR stunt that stays true to their values and ethos, while still having fun with their product range. More than that, the brand was able to market its fake product with witty and humorous messaging to delight its audience.
Emirates – Emirates Sealine
After ‘conquering the skies’ luxury airliner Emirates supposedly set its sights on the seven seas by introducing its ultra-luxurious cruise liner ‘Emirates Sealine’. In a fake press release, Emirates announced that its newly appointed Chief Maritime Officer, Captain Jack Shallow, will be at the helm of Emirates Sealine, and its first cruise is scheduled to ‘flag off’ from Dubai Harbour on 1st April 2024.
On Instagram, the fake promotional video generated over 245,000 likes and 2,500 comments, while the overall campaign generated a significant level of media attention. Reflective of Emirates’ core brand values of innovation, agility, and excellence, this campaign signified how brands can be agile and innovative with their marketing efforts to generate high levels of audience engagement.
Birds Bakery – Scented Candle Range
East Midlands-based chain Bird’s Bakery took part in the fun by shocking its customers with the launch of its range of sensual home accessories, from a pork pie candle, beef paste scented wax melts, and a quiche lorraine room spray. A spokesperson from the store said: “A lot of customers tell us how much they love the smell of freshly baked bread in our stores, so we decided to expand that concept further and look at how we could take familiar Bird’s aromas into people’s homes.”
Achieving coverage in the Daily Mirror, this campaign reflected the brand’s sense of humour and personality, creating entertaining and shareable content that shocked its audiences.
Top three tips for brands to consider when creating a creative campaign
Providing brands with a unique opportunity to have some lighthearted fun, brands can use creative PR stunts to create unique and funny campaigns which will engage audiences and generate some free publicity.
All of our favourite campaigns this year shared the same themes in common; creativity, humour, and personality, which form part of our top three tips for any brand looking to launch an effective and appropriate creative campaign.
Think about what will surprise and delight your audience by looking at what your brand does best, and coming up with a joke or prank that plays off from that. Leverage Digital PR and social media activity to make the content visible and shareable, and don’t be afraid to use puns, hashtags, and witty wordplay to accompany any creative visuals and graphics.
Stay true to your brand
When it comes to creative campaigns, this type of marketing can only be effective if it stays true to your brand and aligns with your values and messaging. Importantly, remember to keep your audience in mind, and ensure that any campaign remains relevant to your brand, otherwise, you risk alienating your audience and damaging your reputation.
All jokes aside, before launching any type of PR stunt or creative, ensure you think about its potential impact on your brand and your audience, and that the campaign is in good taste and remains inoffensive. Moreover, you must be transparent about the campaign to avoid misleading your audience. For any fake product launches, make sure that customers are not able to add to the basket or purchase the items, and that you have clearly signalled a disclaimer.
Create unique and memorable campaigns with Digital Ethos
By following these tips, you can work to create a successful and effective reactive campaign that will delight your audience, increase engagement, and generate a positive buzz for your brand.
If you’re looking to get started with reactive marketing or want to generate excitement and media attention around your brand, get in touch with our PR experts today!