April Fools Day — A Great Day to Take Marketing Risks?

Ah yes. April Fools Day. I have so much fun with it. I don’t enjoy lying to people during the year, but every April 1st I make a point of doing the best I can to make (what I think) are witty jokes and projects meant to trick people and put a smile on their face.

This year, especially after taking all of these marketing classes, I’ve begun to reflect on April Fools Day as a potential golden opportunity for marketers. Why this day unlike any other? I’m glad you asked!

I’d like to start by discussing two cases of April Fools Day success for two entities: Amazon and Toonami.

Toonami was a block of cartoons (mostly Japanese anime) offered by Cartoon Network that gained huge popularity and a big fan base. It had about a decade-long run before being cancelled. For years, fans asked to have the block come back, even with websites being formed to mimic the block with the same type of programming.

The Toonami Logo (source: http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/toonami/images/d/db/Toonami_Logo_2000.png/revision/latest?cb=20140221025708)

Flash-forward to April Fools Day 2012, and viewers who were watching Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block were suddenly interrupted with classic Toonami bumps, complete with the classic Toonami host T.O.M. talking to people once more. To make a long story short, this eventually kicked off a marketing campaign asking the audience to request Toonami to come back if they wanted it to via social media tags that gave Cartoon Netowork the information they needed to know that enough people wanted it to, with it now still staying on to this day.

The April Fools Day Broadcast (Source: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/AxoiLIh7PUg/maxresdefault.jpg)

Another April Fool’s Day joke (maybe) that turned into an actual product were Amazon’s dash buttons. Back in 2015, Amazon released buttons that could instantly re-order products for you at the push of a button right before April Fool’s Day. While we know now that this eventually turned into an actual product, the timing led people to believe that it was meant as an April Fools Day joke.

Amazon Dash Button Example (Source: http://internetofthingswiki.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Amazon-dash-button.png?189db0)

While it still remains unclear whether or not the dash buttons were an actual April Fools Day prank, what stood out to me was the potential to launch something on April Fools Day to gauge your target market’s response. This way, you don’t receive the bad publicity of a failed product, and can also see at the same time how receptive consumers would be to its existence.

More Dash Buttons (Source: http://i.imgur.com/9ijBpOx.jpg)

I believe that companies will start using AFD as a way to test products they are considering developing. It’s a great way to test the waters and take your consumers’ temperatures before investing in a new product or facing the negative backlash of a failed one.


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