April Fool’s for Petpreneurs: The Best of the Best Marketing for Pet
A look at some of the funniest campaigns we’ve seen over the past few years, and how you can use unexpected and outlandish ‘fake news’ to entertain and engage your pet-loving audience.
April 1st is the one day a year when playing pranks on friends and family is actually encouraged, and more than that, it’s a valuable opportunity for brands of all sizes to engage with their audiences. With that in mind, and since it’s a favorite holiday of Jane’s, we thought we’d do a round-up of some of the most memorable pet-related April Fool’s campaigns we’ve seen over the last few years. But, we’ll also give you a few tips on how you can grab the attention of as many people as possible and use the day to help build momentum in your marketing.
Warby Parker’s eyewear for dogs (2012)
American eyewear brand Warby Parker really went above and beyond with their April Fool’s prank back in 2012, creating a whole ‘Warby Barker’ website for their ‘new collection’ of doggy eyewear! If charmed consumers actually added pair of doggy specs to their cart (did anyone really believe the stunt and want to pay $95 for a pair, we wonder?), they were directed to an April Fool’s message encouraging a donation to the Humane Society – nice touch.
The Scotch Malt Whiskey Society’s whisky sniffer dog (2016)
With a post on their website announcing the news, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society shared its brand new employee in 2016 – golden receiver Chaucer. Appointed as the world’s first sniffer dog, we were told the lucky pooch had the job of sniffing out the finest whiskies!
Thorpe Theme Park to allow dogs on roller coasters (2014)
In 2014 Thorpe Park in Surrey announced their new, dog-friendly theme park called, of course Thorpe Bark. They even revealed their plans for a new Thorpe Shark Hotel for their doggy visitors, and claimed that volunteer testers had rated the rides five woofs out of five.
Zumba for dogs (2015)
Complete with adorable video, fitness brand Zumba’s April Fool’s prank in 2015 was based around their special new classes for our canine companions – Zumba For Dogs. With dogs loving any kind of activity, this one wasn’t even too much of a stretch!
Amazon’s Petlexa (2017)
Why should we humans have all the fun with our gadgets? That was the thinking behind last year’s April Fool from Amazon, as they announced an Amazon Echo designed exclusively for pets – Petlexa! Cleverly, as well as offering a humorous take on the popular piece of tech, the campaign also emphasised the features of the Echo that humans appreciate too, a marketing double whammy.
Barclays’ contactless payment system for dogs (2013)
Another great April Fool’s campaign based around dogs, Barclays announced a trial of their contactless payment system for dogs, PayWag. The video that accompanied the campaign features Smiler, a dog who buys his own toy using the mini contactless card inside his collar.
Tasmania Police Announces Hoon Dog (2018)
Tasmania Police announced that they are ‘road testing a new type of specialist detection dog, trained to identify high-risk traffic offenders. Elvis, our highly-trained Hoon Dog responds to octane content and engine decibels to identify hooning cars.’ According to Bob in Oz, in Australia and New Zealand ‘Hoon’ is a derogatory term to refer to a younger person who engages in loutish, anti-social behaviour. In particular, it is used to refer to one who drives in a manner which is anti-social by the standards of contemporary society, that is, fast, noisily or dangerously.’ So of course this little prank is not just a play on the truth, but a play on words (I can hear ‘aint nothing but a hoon dog’ playing juke-box style!) The whole prank is tied up with this little doozy: ‘When the hoon vehicle is in the immediate vicinity Elvis curls his lip and gives the look.’
Why great April Fool’s Day pranks, AKA ‘Fake News’, are so shareable?
A recent study at MIT published in Science shows that so-called ‘fake news’ travels faster on social media, and spreads farther, than real news. While that’s definitely worrying in terms of serious world issues, in terms of Brands’ April Fool’s Day pranks we thought it would be interesting to look at why fake news is so juicy in terms of going viral, and how it happens!
The researchers suggested the reason for fake news travelling so much faster (with real news ‘cascades’ – their term for widely spread tweets – rarely reaching more than 1,000 people yet fake news ‘cascades’ often reaching between 1,000 and 100,000 people) was to do with the information being shared and how unusual it is. Think about it, the truth is, well, just the facts, whereas fake news is novel, often surprising, and usually highly outlandish!
Hmm, almost like a great April Fool’s prank should be…
3 Tips for a fun & successful ‘fake news’ campaign
April Fool’s Day or not, the question is how can you make a success out of a campaign like this?
- Make your news something that could possibly be believable: There needs to be some uncertainty among your audience – even if they think logically that it surely can’t be true, there needs to be some part of them that thinks ‘but what if it IS true?’ to really get them hooked. This is actually easier than you might think. After all, we’re always expecting to be pranked on April Fool’s Day, but that doesn’t stop some people actually getting fooled!
- Consider a joint campaign: Fake news about a single brand is one thing, but teaming up with another business will make your prank even more believable. Real life examples of this include Warby Parker and Arby’s, SodaStream and Bed Bath & Beyond, and Marmite and Vaseline (though some might actually love that last one!).
- Make sure it’s really worth it: Whatever you do, don’t pull a prank or run a joke campaign just for the sake of it. If it’s not going to make your audience laugh, talk about your brand, or be amazed, it’s not going to be worth it. We also recommend you pick a campaign that will surprise & delight your audience (not upset them) you want your tribe to share your fake news out of joy and delight, not disgust or anger.
You’ll not only get your brand at the forefront of people’s minds with this type of potentially viral content, you’ll be showing your audience you have a sense of humour. It doesn’t have to be a detailed campaign like Warby Barker’s, as long as your prank raises a chuckle, it’s a great piece of positive marketing. More importantly, it gives your business the type of human touch that always goes down well with potential customers.
So what are your plans for next April Fool’s Day?
Keep an eye out today for more clever campaigns like the ones above and get your (and your team’s) thinking caps on now in preparation for next year!