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Published April 4th 2023

April Fool’s Day: The Power Of Funny Marketing & PR Campaigns

With so much noise in the online space, it's more important than ever for companies to stand out and create memorable marketing and PR campaigns that truly resonate with consumers. 

One of the most effective ways to achieve this is through the power of humor. Funny marketing and PR campaigns not only capture attention, but also create an emotional connection with audiences, increase brand awareness – and even drive sales. In this blog, we'll explore the benefits of using humor in marketing and PR, and share examples of some of our favorite campaigns. 

April Fool's Day 2023

If there is ever a time to test out a campaign with a funnier spin, it's on April Fool’s Day. April 1st in the press and on social media turns into the wild west, full of brands you may not expect poking fun at their audiences, themselves, and sometimes their competitors. Here are a few of my favourite April Fool's posts from brands this year.

Duolingo x Peacock: Love Language

Duolingo and Peacock had possibly the best April Fool's Day campaign of the year. Love Language was a fake TV show concept that mimicked the popular reality shows like Love Island. This reality show concept had their audience genuinely exited and asking for its production to become a reality.

Malibu X IRN-BRU: MaliBRU

A classic April Fool's brand crossover. This campaign teased an unlikely collaboration between two of the UK's most popular drinks with a cult following.

Dominos: just crusts

This post addressed a very niche group of pizza lovers who actually prefer the crusts. So, as a nod to these customers Dominos announced an option to order just pizza crusts on their app for April Fool's this year.

Walker's: heart-shaped spuds

After briefly mentioning the idea of heart-shaped snacks, Walker's left fans of their crisps both excited and disappointed. The popular brand had announced that they were developing heart-shaped potatoes specifically for the production of these snacks.

April Fool's Day Classics

There are a few types of April Fool’s campaigns that have seen lots of success and show how effective a healthy sense of humor can be in marketing.

Fake product announcements

A popular type of April Fool’s campaign involves creating a fake product that addresses your customers’ wildest dreams (however impossible). One great example of this is PayPal’s 2018 April Fool’s campaign where they announced a product update that allowed users to print money straight from their phone. 

This post garnered the most engagement of any post on their Twitter account that year with over 3,500 retweets, 10.8K likes on Twitter, and over 900 shares on Facebook.

Teasing customer quirks

Another option is to create a campaign around a well-known customer quirk. As part of McDonald’s 2021 April Fool’s social media campaign, they teased their customers with a mini portion of fries designed for those friends who shamelessly pick at other people’s portions.

This campaign was created by Ready10 agency and garnered 3 million organic impressions across McDonald’s social channels with a 13% engagement rate.  

But you don’t have to save the jokes just for April Fool’s – quirky and humorous campaigns can work all year round.  

Unexpected crossovers: 

Collaborations between brands have become increasingly popular in recent years, and when done right, they can be incredibly effective in generating buzz and increasing brand awareness. However, collaborations that incorporate humor can take the impact of that campaign to the next level. 

Weetabix X Heinz 

I couldn’t write about iconic collaborations as part of funny campaigns without mentioning the Weetabix and Heinz beans post. This social media post is a perfect example of how weird and wonderful collaborations can set the internet alight. Simple yet effective, this collaboration between two of the UK’s most loved breakfast items was so bizarre and brilliant that it triggered a whole host of odd crossovers in the fast-moving consumer goods space, as well as a mention in a House of Commons debate, and 600+ brand responses.

Creative problem-solving: 

GAME’s Christmas Tinner 

One way to show your audience that you get them is to get creative and show that you understand the problems they have outside of the product or service you provide. Take GAME’s ‘Christmas Tinner’ campaign. This creative campaign was developed by the incredible creative agency Rise at Seven (who also happen to be big BuzzSumo fans).

This was designed to boost GAME’s gaming chair section organically as part of a link-building campaign. The concept was inspired by holiday gamers and offered a way for them to indulge in a Christmas dinner without the hassle of cooking and leaving their gaming seat. 

The results of this campaign speak for themselves with 333k social media shares, 160 links, coverage across 14 countries, 85K page views, and a 13% increase in brand awareness. 

Adding a spin to the news

The 'Not Big Mac'

On January 17th, 2019 McDonald's lost a lawsuit against a small Irish hamburger chain, resulting in them losing the exclusive rights to the trademark for Big Mac. 

In less than a week, Burger King in Sweden responded to the news of McDonald's losing the exclusive rights to the trademark for Big Mac by renaming their burgers on the menu boards in their restaurants. They introduced a new line of burgers called "The Not Big Macs" with names such as "The burger Big Mac wants to be," "The like a Big Mac but actually big," "The anything but a Big Mac," and "The Big Mac-ish but flame grilled of course." 

By newsjacking this story, the campaign quickly gained traction and captured the attention of major media outlets, including TV stations and world-renowned news publications. This campaign led to coverage in 800+ articles, over 4 billion impressions and appeared on the front page of Reddit three times. Showing the power of monitoring your competitors and putting a funny spin on your reactive newsjacking campaigns.

Pro Tip

To learn more about how you can make the most of the stories dominating the news, check out our full newsjacking guide.

How to make a funny campaign work for your brand

Creating a successful funny campaign is no easy feat. It requires a thorough understanding of the brand's values and target audience, as well as a creative approach to humor that resonates with consumers. Here are some tips for how brands can effectively create funny campaigns:

  • Know your audience: A successful funny campaign is tailored to the brand's target audience. It's important to understand what type of humor your audience responds to and what will resonate with them.
  • Stay true to your brand: While humor can be a great way to connect with consumers, it's important to stay true to your brand's values and messaging. Don't sacrifice your brand's identity for the sake of a joke. Make sure that whatever you do is consistent with your brand’s voice.
  • Master your monitoring: Funny campaigns rely on an understanding of how your brand is perceived, what is going on in your industry, and what your competitors are up to. 
  • Keep an eye on what’s trending/ in the news: Amplify your efforts by putting a funny twist on what is already capturing your audience’s attention. Using trend tracking tools and custom feeds can help you quickly jack the news and the trends as part of your reactive PR or marketing campaigns.
  • Be creative: The most successful funny campaigns are those that are unexpected and creative. Don't be afraid to take risks and try something new.
  • Collaborate with experts: Consider collaborating with comedy writers or social media influencers who specialize in creating humorous content. This can help ensure that your campaign is well-executed and resonates with your audience.
  • Use humor as a tool, not the main focus: While humor is an effective way to connect with consumers, it shouldn't be the sole focus of the campaign. It's important to communicate the brand's message and values while incorporating humor in a meaningful way.

Hopefully, this had got you suitably inspired to try something weird and wonderful in your next campaign. For tools that you can use to monitor your brand, report on your campaigns, research journalists, and track the trends, sign up for a 30-day free BuzzSumo trial.

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