12 brand pranks on April Fools’ Day

Monday was a busy day on the Web, as a number of companies spoofed their audience with holiday hoaxes.


According to Mark Twain, April 1 is the day that reminds us “what we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four.” He means fools, not practical jokesters.

Among brands on April 1, 2013, there are a number of jokesters, and some of their work is quite clever, even if it’s not making a fool of anyone.

Here are a dozen examples:

Google unveils a suite of pranks.

The search giant is known for its April Fools’ Day pranks, and this year it unleashed a number of them. Here are three examples:

YouTube shutting down, selecting a “winner.” A slick video from Google explained that YouTube plans to stop accepting videos at midnight and will begin the process of selecting a winner. Pretty clever, actually:

Google Nose enters beta. The first search engine that enables people to search for scents. “Smelling is believing,” the company proclaimed.

Google Analytics spots Space Station control room. Anyone using their Google Analytics today likely spotted a new location pop up—the space station control room, which is somewhere in the South Pacific. (Full disclosure, I fell for this one and nearly sent a company-wide email about it.)

If you want to see even more Google pranks, Business Insider has a list.

Twitter launches consonants only site, Twttr.

In a blog post on Sunday, the 140-character social network said it’s breaking into a two-tiered platform: Twttr, a free service in which users can only tweet in consonants; and the original Twitter (or what it calls “premium”)—with consonants and vowels—that’ll cost users $5 a month.

By eliminating vowels, the company believes it will create more efficient and “dense” communications, according to the Twitter blog.

The blog post directs users to a site that translates regular tweets into twts; however, the site declares, “Happy April fool’s day,” or “Hppy prl fl’s dy #nvwls.”

Scope announces new bacon mouthwash.

On Friday, Advertising Age pegged this promotion from Procter & Gamble’s Scope as an April Fools’ Day prank—the company reportedly offered to talk with AdAge if the publication signed a non-disclosure agreement, which it refused—but the bizarre Bacon Mouthwash product is still getting major buzz on social media.

A Facebook page dedicated to the product has nearly 750,000 “likes,” and its Twitter feed has garnered more than 26,500 followers. Here’s a video for the Bacon Mouthwash the company shared via Twitter:

Miller Lite joins the trend with bacon-flavored beer.

Not to be outdone, Miller Lite said on Facebook it is rolling out a new beer on June 1.

Sharpie tries out food-themed colors.

Instead of bacon, Sharpie is experimenting with burgers, announcing its limited-edition “Catsup Red, Cheddar Orange, Buns Beige, Beefy Brown and Pickle Green” markers. Here’s the announcement on Facebook.

Sony’s rolls out headphones for cats.

Sparing no expense on this prank, Sony unveiled headphones for cats in a blog post, YouTube video, and press release. It also produced a series of images of cats wearing the new headphones.

“Now that there are more households with pets than with children, we are targeting pet owners who want to provide unique entertainment experiences for their furry, four-legged family members,” Tom Barret, Lead Engineer for the Animalia line, said in a spoof press release.

American Eagle unveils skinny skinny jeans.

“Sometimes [skinny jeans] aren’t skinny enough,” a model says in an American Eagle ad for its new skinny skinny jeans, which are literally painted on with spray paint.

The ad hit YouTube last Thursday, and it got people talking about whether it was a fake—and yes, they are.

The “Today” show airs fake marriage proposal gone bad.

Whenever a man drops to a knee to propose marriage in front of audience, there’s that moment when everyone thinks, “This could get really awkward.”

The “Today” show on Monday morning tried to create such a moment when it brought a couple into its studio—they were supposedly standing outside—so the man could propose to his girlfriend. When he popped the question, she froze for a few moments and then asked if they could stop filming.

Guest host Martha Stewart seemed a tad uncomfortable, but just as things were about to get weird, Willie Geist pulled the rip cord, announcing that it was a hoax.

Earlier in the show, host Natalie Morales was startled by a chair that jumped up and grabbed her. See that prank here.

Orbitz kicks off time-travel savings.

Feeling nostalgic? Orbitz released a new promotion today for those interested in time travel. The “2-day time travel savings exclusive” allows customers to “go wherever, whenever.” For instance, the travel site is offering tips to:

Past:

Hotel L’Amour: Paris, 1889 AD
Royal Giza Suites: Egypt, 2540 BCE
The Manhattan Hotel: New York City, 1962 AD

Future:

Lunar Colony Complex: Moon, 3013
SeaSphere Lab: Pacific Ocean Region A, 2801
SleepPod Express: Tokyo, 2121

According to the conditions of this promotion, “Fictional hotels in the past or future are subject to the creation of an actual time machine.”

That damn fine print.

Southwest announces hot-air balloon travel.

In a blog post, the airline said: “Baskets float free.”

Three Musketeers cuts a musketeer.

Is a Three Musketeers bar too much for you? Perhaps you’ll like the company’s latest candy bar, Two Musketeers.

HubSpot rolls out Sprocket Vision

If you think business-to-business companies can’t enjoy the April Fools’ holiday, just look to HubSpot, which is rolling out Google Glass style glasses to enable marketers to simply look at someone and determine whether he or is a qualified lead. They’re called Sprocket Vision. Here’s the video:

Any good pranks catch your eye? Share them in the comments section.

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