Editor’s Notes: April Fools’ Day Fun
Who says creativity in direct marketing is dead? Whether companies are celebrating the end of winter, the possible beginning of the end of the recession or simply how social media allows you to prank a much bigger audience than your more gullible co-workers, April Fools' Day 2010 brought scads of tongue-in-cheek promotions.
Database marketing services firm AccuData proved that tricks aren't just for digital marketing kids when it included a fake rental file in its e-mail promotion to list brokers and marketers the first week of April. With the "Born Into Darkness" list, marketers could reach today's hottest (and coldest) segment: vampires. AccuData created a landing page and highly entertaining datacard for the spoof list property that featured such selects as century of birth, blood type preference and presence of physical power. Suggested offers included teeth whitening products, European cruise packages and window coverings.
If I were a list broker, I'd have to negotiate a substantial discount on the phone number select because the FTC prohibits calls before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m. In fact, it's probably best to skip telemarketing to this segment altogether, given the risk of how many other marketers might be calling during the same short contact window. Vampires have their own brand of justice—according to books and movies, that is.
What really would have been foolish is if AccuData didn't build an offer into its campaign, which the company also promoted on Twitter and Facebook. Landing page visitors were invited to sign up for information on AccuData's "less disturbing product offerings" and to share the best April Fools' Day prank they ever fell for.
While Starbucks (with its "micra" and "plenta" drink sizes) and Google (with its corporate name change to Topeka) executed clever hoaxes that didn't really fool anyone (or at least shouldn't have), e-tailer ThinkGeek continued its April Fools' Day reign with the insertion of a handful of fake products into its Web site offerings. The product descriptions sarcastically poked fun at the often absurd byproducts of the American commerce engine. Nanny cams and cell phone GPS have nothing on the "Tell Me Your Secrets Bear" that records your child's most private thoughts. And with the iPad set to hit stores on April 3, ThinkGeek just couldn't resist tweaking Apple fans by creating a fake cabinet, called the iCade, to house the new device for easier video-game playing. Post a negative product review? That's so 2009. It's much more fun to share your opinion via product and aftermarket accessory spoofs!
But the laughter does stop at ThinkGeek just long enough to poll visitors on whether they actually would buy any of the imagined items. Maybe April Fools' Day marketing is more than just fun and games, after all.