Pranks a Lot: A Guide to Pulling Off April Fools Jokes for Your Business


On Wednesday, March 20th, American Eagle Outfitters released a video advertising their newest product, the AEO Skinny Skinny Jeans, which has since gone viral. At first the ad appears to be consistent with the company’s marketing, but then viewers notice something peculiar – the models aren’t actually wearing pants; they have “jeans” painted on their bodies. The link provided on the YouTube video points to a product page on the retailer’s website depicting two aerosol cans, one in Indigo and one in Bright Light, with the product name and price of $49.99. However, when you add the product to your bag a pop up claiming that the AEO Skinny Skinny is temporarily sold out appears.

aprilfools-skinnyThough the company has yet to make a specific statement about the ad, spokesperson Iris Yen told Mashable, “All I can say is we will be revealing more in the near future. I know that’s not a satisfying answer but we have a plan to excite and delight our customers that I don’t want to ruin.” No one can say for certain, but this is reminiscent of an April Fools prank to us, especially given the timing.

April Fools jokes can be a great way to grab attention and go viral, but they can also be risky. We’ve outlined the dos and don’ts of pulling off an April Fools stunt at your business.

Do: Make Your Joke Outlandish

aprilfools-tacoIf you’re going to take part in April Fools’ mischief, make sure that it is outrageous enough that the majority of your audience will recognize that it is a joke, or at the very least, question the claims.

One of our favorites came from Taco Bell in 1999 when they claimed they were purchasing the Liberty Bell and changing its name to the “Taco Liberty Bell.” Making your prank whimsical and offbeat keeps it light hearted and increases the chances that your audience will get the joke.

Don’t: Offer a Fake Deal

You may think offering a false deal would be an easy way to join in the April Fools’ fun. However, no one likes feeling they’ve been cheated. Unless you are pretending to give away a pony or something equally unrealistic, don’t promote fake sales or freebies. Even then, some customers may believe your claim. To be safe rather than sorry, avoid this tactic all together.

Do: Play Off of Recent Events

In 2010, Topeka, Kansas Mayor Bill Bunten announced that they were changing the name of the city to Google for the month of March. The name change was a ploy to attract the tech company, who was planning to build a series of extremely fast broadband networks in cities nationwide at the time. In turn, Google did what any company with a sense of humor would do: they announced that they were changing their name to Topeka, switching the names on their homepage, posting images of a new sign at their headquarters, and even giving users a guide to using the new name in conversation. Playing off recent events, especially those that have related to your business directly, shows that you don’t take yourself too seriously and helps you connect with your customers.

Don’t: Involve Other Companies Without their Consent

In 2010, College Humor posted signs in New York City claiming that famous West Coast chain In-N-Out Burger would be opening up shop in the city. The humor site also hired actors to dress as employees of the franchise to pose with the signs in order to make the hoax more believable. While the comedy site may have gotten away with this stunt due to the very nature of their mission, there is a huge risk involved with other companies, especially competitors. There is a very real chance of legal retribution. When it comes to April Fools’ pranks, it’s best to keep it in the company unless others have agreed to join forces with you.

April Fools’ jokes have huge potential. Whether that potential plays out in disaster or well-received hilarity is up to you. If you’re planning April Fools’ tomfoolery for your business, follow our guide and keep it clean to boost your relations with your customers.

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