It's April Fools' day and no one is safe from brand PR stunts. Where Microsoft has just initiated a blanket ban on 1 April humour, other companies have decided to uphold the tradition of capitalising on the event with some fake news of their own.
In a memo to staff last week, Microsoft noted how April Fools' pranks had a "limited positive impact", pointing out that ill-judged jokes can even result in "unwanted news cycles". But while big tech might be cynical about filling journalists' inboxes with fake news for a day, consumers aren't as uptight.
In the UK at least, research indicates 86% of people think humour is one of the best ways a company can connect with them. 68% even say they think April Fools' campaigns were funny.
Though some admittedly miss the funny bone, this year's lot of brand executions is a mixed bag of inspired ideas, millennial product parodies and a few clumsy rebrands.
Among the efforts is a 'height verification tool' from Tinder which has already proven to be divisive despite its aim of bringing "truthfulness back into the world of online dating". British retailer Boden, meanwhile, has riffed off the current Brexit chaos with a tongue-in-cheek Breton top ban.
Scroll down to see the rest of this year's tongue-in-cheek stunts, campaigns and product launches from around the world, from Singapore to Scotland.
Tinder: Height verification badge
Recognising that height is a valuable currency in the world of online dating, Tinder has trolled users by announcing plans to introduce a ‘height verification badge’. “Simply input your true, accurate height with a screenshot of you standing next to any commercial building. We’ll do some state-of-the-art verifying and you’ll receive your badge directly on your profile,” it teases.
Durex: Fish skin and mala hot pot flavoured condoms
Durex is inviting couples to unleash the heat with a special new flavour:"Spice things up and experience the taste of the fish skin condom with mala hot pot flavour. Packed with handpicked ingredients for your tasteful experience. Let ’em pleasure your mouth..." it insists on its Facebook page.
Jameson: A glittering deterrent
Jameson has launched a clever (and sparkly) way to deter would-be whisky thieves from stealing a dram of the good stuff. Jameson Catchmates comes complete with 'glittershot' technology. One twist of the cap sees any sip-stealing roommate or relative met with a wave of green glitter, turning their sticky fingers into shimmering ones.
Boden: Brexit Breton top ban
Breton shirts are the latest casualty of EU upheavals according to Boden. The retailer claims consent has been withdrawn for it to continue producing the French-inspired sartorial staple in the UK, and that anyone owning a Breton top will now need to apply for a special EU shirt license to wear one or face a €1000 fine. As such, it’s offering a thoughtful solution to customers: a Breton stripe removal service. The complimentary postal service erases illegal stripes by screen-printing, a technique the company calls ‘the Bret-off’. Boden’s founder has been giving interviews to the media this morning.
Travellodge: Bedshare service
In its bid to compete with sharing economy rivals, Travel lodge is taking sharing to the next level with a fresh ‘bedshare’ service that makes travelling a little less lonely and cheaper. Guests will get a 50% discount if they are willing to share half their room with another guest, and the company will clearly mark everything down the middle to make sure each person gets their fair share.
SodaStream: A wind-powered innovation
American astronaut Scott Kelly, best known for having spent the most time in space on a single mission, is the face of SodaStream’s newest innovation; SodaStream.ME, which turns people’s excess CO2 into sparkling water on the go. One small burp for man, one sparkling leap for mankind.
Discussing the campaign with The Drum, Scott Kelly said: "I have a SodaStream and really like the product. As a lover of our planet, I appreciate partnering up with a brand whose environmental values fall in line with my own personal beliefs."
He clarified that: "You can’t burp in space. On earth - or in a gravity field - the gas in your stomach is lighter than air, so it rises opposite to the force of gravity. In space - in microgravity - there is no weight and hence the gas isn’t “lighter” than air, so it doesn’t rise. It stays mixed in with the food in your body, so it’s eventually expelled another way."
Maryland: Avocado cookies
Forget smashed avo’ on toast, Maryland has taken the millennials’ favourite food craze one step further with the launch of its brand-new Avocado Cookie. Promising an “Instagrammable snack” like no other, the snack maker claims to have used “refined avocado powder” in lieu of flower, creating a super-food alternative to original cookies.
Hello Fresh: A bold unicorn box
What do brands think millennials love more than avocados? Luridly-coloured foods and Unicorn-themed products apparently. That’s why Hello Fresh is adding the ‘The Unicorn Box’ to its meal subscription box options. The first-of-its-kind experience contains three colourful recipe kits that will let diners eat “like a mythical creature with a box full of farm-fresh rainbows, smiles, and joy right at your doorstep”.
Honda: The polite horn
Sometimes drivers need to get the attention of others. But do they have to be so rude about it? In its mission to make roads everywhere more civilised, Honda Canada has launched a solution: the polite horn.
Origin: Sun power
Solar panel business Origin has announced it’s literally going the extra mile for customers and heading to the sun to power the entire planet, in a world first mission to capture solar power in its purest form. It says the traditional method of waiting for sunlight means we lose around 98% of its power before it hits earth. So, in order to capture the energy in its purest form, Origin has engaged some of the world’s greatest engineers to head into space to carve off a bowling ball size of the sun – which alone will be enough to power the world for the next 60,000 years.
Caring Skin: Astronaut facial
Space is a recurrent theme this year, with Singapore facial spa caring skin revealing it will be sending customers into outer space to clear blemishes and treat sensitive and inflamed skin. The 150-minute suborbital ‘pop-up’ treatment, dubbed 'The Astronaut Facial', is endorsed by influencers Camira Asrori and Cassandra Tan.
Google: Snakes on a map
Google prefers to celebrate April Fools’ day instead of tricking people. Last year, you might’ve seen Waldo peeking out of your Google Maps to invite you to find him on a scavenger hunt: This year, it’s revived another nostalgic game that takes people back to a much simpler, pre-Fortnite time: Snake. Confusingly, the ‘snake’ is now a train. Regardless, the twist on the 90s Nokia classic lets players ‘travel’ to different locations across the world—including Cairo, London, San Francisco, São Paulo, Sydney and Tokyo – straight from Google Maps.
Jägermeister: Introducing the Jägerbong
Just ahead of the 4/20 celebrations, Jägermeister has announced that it’s joining the cannabis market with the launch of the Jägerbong. Coming in at a clever $42, customer can light up the party with a kit which includes a 1L bottle of the aperitif they can recycle and turn into a bong, a bong carb, a hacky sack, eye drops, a lighter and grinder.
Aaron & Partners: Animals need lawyers too
UK law firm Aaron & Partners has launched an employment law service for pet influencers. Dogs, cats, fish and tortoises are just some of the species the firm hopes to work with. Standard employment contracts will be drawn up to suit the needs of each animal, including key clauses such as fixed nap times, allocated time for belly tickles or petting, and remuneration in snuggles and favourite treats.
BMW: Lunar paint
BMW has unveiled an innovative new feature that helps to “push the limits of electric driving”. From 1 April, BMW drivers will be able to add Lunar Paint as an optional extra to their i series vehicle. The product uses “revolutionary photovoltaic technology to harness the power of the moon and passively recharge your battery in the hours of darkness.” It’s what Neil Armstrong would have wanted.
Deliveroo: Crustless wonder
Delivery giant Deliveroo has revealed its plan to remove all crust options from the app, due to overwhelming anti-crust feedback from customers placing pizza orders across all of its 14 markets.
Like Tikes: Big Tikes
Kids toy maker Little Tikes will now be known as Big Tikes. The announcement reflects the brand’s “new found maturity” and is a nod to its fresh and grown-up approach. The new logo will appear across all brand channels and on social media.
KitKat: Tea time
After four years of intense research, Nestlé has crafted the optimal blend of tea leaves for the perfect brew to accompany its famous KitKat break. This tea has been developed in the brand’s very own Teaology labs and comes in tea bags inspired by the signature KitKat range: two-finger, four-finger and KitKat Chunky to fit every break occasion.
Amazon: Audible for fish
Amazon is giving Aussies the chance to get their fish hooked on literature with Audible for Fish – a three-second audiobook designed to keep underwater friends company while their owners aren’t around. It says research has shown that marine life is stimulated by short bursts of audio, sounds a little fishy to us.
London Dungeon & HSBC: Rugby torture chamber
Organisers of the HSBC London Sevens rugby tournament have announced a collaboration with macabre tourist attraction London Dungeon. The London Dungeon has installed a replica of its infamous torture chamber within a dungeon-style sin bin at Twickenham Stadium, where players will be sent on receipt of a yellow card throughout the duration of the nail-biting two-day event.
Zava: The Meata-blocker
Following a record-breaking Veganuary, it’s the dietary trend on everyone’s lips, and from today Brits can simply pop a pill to help them lead a plant-based lifestyle. Online doctor Zava’s Meata-blockers have meat-suppressing properties, diverting blood flow so that hormones involved in creating meat cravings can’t circulate around the body as efficiently. The pills also cause a decreased sense of smell and therefore less temptation when a tasty bacon sandwich is nearby.
Foodpanda: Jetski deliveries
A new mode of food delivery via jet blades has been revealed by Foodpanda Singapore. The innovation will “shave delivery times by half”, reducing it to 15 minutes or less. Not to disappoint Singaporeans, Foodpanda will be rewarding one lucky customer with a personal jet blade session (valued at S$198) with Ola Beach Club on Sentosa, with those who include 'fpjetblad' into the voucher code box until 5 April in with a chance of winning.
Wilkinson Sword: Casting Ken
Wilkinson Sword has appointed Ken Carson as the face of its Hydro 5 Sense product range.
Otherwise known as Ken Doll, clean-shaven Ken now can grow a beard… in seconds.
Le Chameau: Muddy boots
Building from the insight that people want an authentic outdoor experience, Le Chameau has launched an exclusive Pre Muddé service.
Pre Muddé offers boot lovers the desirable, well-worn country look, without even stepping outside. The boots arrive in soil curated by the brand's expert pedologists (soil specialists).
Shutterstock: AI-serviced library
Shutterstock has announced plans to build the world's largest brick-and-mortar library. The library is to house over 250 million volumes of imagery, a full-floor of 14 million reels of film and a listening bay where visitors can enjoy over 20,000 music tracks.
AI-powered robots call Cyanotypes are to replace traditional librarians, to ensure the building is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
Construction of the building is to commence in 2020 and will be designed by the world-renowned Belgian architect, Alexandria VonPixel.
Sainsbury's: Pink avocados
Sainsbury’s is to stock a limited edition run of ripe and ready pink avocados - a naturally grown hybrid of different avocado varieties.
The supermarket has worked closely with a supplier in Peru to grow the exclusive Rosa-vo, which will go on sale as an initial trial to gauge popularity among UK customers and Instagram hungry millennials.
Nakd: Takeaway flavours
Nakd has expanded its range of bars with a series of savoury snacks inspired by Indian Takeaways.
The Indian 'Flakeaway' comes in four flavours: Vindalover, Poppadom Paradise, Korm-azeballs and Pilau Nice.
Cineworld: 4DX movies
Cineworld has done the impossible and brought snowfall in London, in Spring.
To celebrate the countdown to the arrival of its 4DX screens, visitors exiting North Greenwich station were met with an unexpected snowfall.
Snow is one of the effects 4DX can stimulate in the screening room, as well as wind, lightning, bubbles, water and scent work.
Hotels.com: Pet passports
With Brexit still up in the air, 75% of pet owners do know that their EU pet passports are in jeopardy.
To ensure pets don't miss out on the beauty of the continent, Hotels.com has launched its first European Pup fakeation. It is a themed pet stay where dogs can enjoy European destinations without leaving the UK.
Royal Caribbean: Air space
Who says cruises can only be enjoyed on water? Not the Royal Caribbean, who has launched its first 'cloud-class' plane called 'Master of the Skies.
Set to take off in 2020, the plane offers guests the chance to enjoy all the hallmarks of its cruises at 35,00 feet in the air.
When the seatbelt sign turns off, the plane turns into a dedicated entertainment zone that hosts an air-hockey table, a library of video games, as well as a whirlpool and dining area.
Subway: Listening in
As paranoia mounts around smartphone listening and ad targeting, Subway is the first brand to openly admit it makes use of covert research techniques.
In dramatic new footage released today, a Subway Sandwich Artist has been caught on camera, capturing overheard conversations in an unknown part of Great Britain. He can be seen hiding in bushes, behind a newspaper and dressed in state of the art military-standard disguises.
Benson for Beds: A royal visit
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle shocked shoppers at a central London store after they were spotted testing out mattresses.
With their 'newly born' baby in tow, the couple were seen browsing the Benson for Babies cot mattress section. found a way to connect with an increasingly flexitarian, millennial audience.
Spam: A vegan treat
Robot Food has jumped on the plant-based wagon, by launching a variation of the iconic tinned food - Vegan Spam.
With a quarter of 25-34-year-olds identifying as vegetarian or vegan, the initiative finds a way to connect with an increasingly flexitarian, millennial audience.
Duolingo: A passive aggressive owl
Learning a language takes a lot of work, perseverance and motivation. With this in mind, Duolingo has launched ‘Duolingo Push.’
Duolingo’s Duo is an online passive aggressive owl that sends you reminders when you need to practice your language skills, but this year, Duo will remind people to practice their language skills - in person.
Duo will turn up at your work, when you are on a date when you are at the gym to make sure you practice your French, Spanish, Korean, Klingon, High Valyrian or Chinese.
Muuna: Cheesy cannabis
Muuna has introduced a new flavour to its cottage cheese range. Muuna cannabis cottage cheese is a limited-edition variety, using milk from grass-fed cows.
Muuna’s limited edition Cannabis variety features cottage cheese as a base with a sprinkle of food-grade cannabis on the bottom.
Designed to create an element of carefree relaxation, while delivering an earthy taste, its latest offering will leave customers relaxed while keeping the munchies at bay.
Isobel: Brexit stamps
As the UK still looks set to exit the EU, a series of six stamps commissioned has been leaked ahead of their official release.
Created by isobel, the six first and second class stamps capture six Brexit ‘icons’ who are presented as famous historical figures complete with a relevant line of copy.
Theresa May is presented as the lady with the lamp – the UK’s first woman of nursing Florence Nightingale, while Boris Johnson has adopted a rotund Churchillian guise.
John Berkow, leader of the house is seen donned a suit of armour as Henry V with the line “Once more unto the lobbies!"
Virgin Atlantic: A sing-a-long
Virgin Atlantic is going back to their musical roots and trialling sing-alongs on key routes.
As part of an extension to the airline's 'depart the everyday' campaign, passengers will be encouraged to join the crew for in-flight karaoke from shortly after take-off.
Highlights of the schedule include a Saturday Night Cabin Fever disco on weekend flights, mile-high hip-hop during flights to LA and non-stop Sinatra on flights to New York. Start spreading the news...