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#DigiTales: Marketing lessons from #AprilFools day pranks

This April Fool’s day, brands have pushed the limits to create pranks. One of Gmail’s prank even backfired badly when someone said they lost their job due to it and eventually Google retracted the prank. In the crevice between the hilarious and the notorious prank lie few marketing lessons, here are my takes.

Virgin Australia’s Kids Class: If red eye flights are not bad enough, there are high chances that you’ll be welcomed to cries of wailing babies, and inconsolable toddler throwing tantrums for not wanting to wear seat belts. This prank by Virgin stems from that insight, but if it came true? As a dad, I’d sign up for it at a premium!

Marketing lesson: Brands try to either address a problem or create delight, but if you observe closely, you may be able to do both.

Trump Free Zone by GroupOn Australia: The debate and speculations of Trump winning US election is becoming intense, Google search for ‘how to move to Canada’ is reported to have surged by 350 per cent in US!

What GroupOn has done here is clever, in the guise of a prank, they have brought Australia under the consideration sets to people who are seriously contemplating to move out of US if Trump wins.

trump-free-sreeraman

Win a Four-Year Island Holiday and Escape a Trump Presidency

Marketing Lesson: When there’s gold rush, sell shovels.

Deliveroo TeleOrder Tech: UK based online food ordering company Deliveroo has an idea to avoid smartphones and apps to order food, this video demonstrates how their telepathic food ordering works. While this is a very geeky prank now, it won’t come as a surprise if this happens in near future, thanks to increasing usage of wearable devices.

Remember Muse, the de-stress headband?

Marketing lesson: Whats sounds impossible today becomes a norm tomorrow. In 1999 there were 1 million websites, today there are over 1 billion.

Emoji License Plates by Honda: The internet digs emojis, Kardashian even makes a living out of it. In a world where there is an increased use of emoji to perform real transactions (you can order Domino’s pizza or buy groceries from Terraa app using just emojis) it’s only a matter of time until the Honda’s dream comes true. After all, their baseline is ‘The Power of Dreams’.

HONDA INTRODUCE EMOJI LICENSE PLATES IN THE UK

 

Marketing lesson: Watch out for change in culture and adapt, if not, you maybe a Kodak soon.

Grow your own organic condoms: This prank by Pasante is too obvious but the worldwide awakening for health and wellness is evident when you try finding a yoga instructor, or the rise in demand for organic foods.

sreeraman-april-fool

Marketing lesson: Greatest shift in consumer behaviour maybe often hidden in plain sight; it’s upto the marketers to notice it. (see how FMCG brands in India are having a divine intervention)

Drop Mic by Gmail: Google has a reputation for pulling off amazing pranks, from AdBirds to Google Mobile Wallet ATM, you can read it all here. This year they made a prank called ‘drop mic’ a send + archive button that also inserts a minion GIF in your email. But when billions of people are using your service, this is not a harmless prank but a breach of trust. (to add something on sent item without confirmation).

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Google retracted the drop mic option after chaos broke out in their product forum and on social media but the damage was done.

Marketing lesson: Trust is earned, never bought or demanded. It is not enough if brands don’t ‘think evil’, they also have to ‘not act stupid’.

What other pranks got your attention?

Sreeraman Thiagarajan

Sreeraman Thiagarajan is Vice President at Publicis Beehive.
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