By: Madeline Rose
This past Monday was a holiday of sorts for the media when advertisers and technology companies big and small released new content to celebrate April Fools’ Day. Users everywhere were confused to see nonsensical apps and ridiculous new products being advertised, though it didn’t take much browsing to see that everyone on the Internet was in on it. For advertisers it was a free pass to flex their funny bones without damaging brand messaging, and for the technology companies it was a chance to toy with their audience- which they certainly did.
Some of the best pranks of the day were headed by Google. This year Google Maps included a 315 year old treasure map that allowed users to search for hidden treasure, if they could get to it before the pirates. For Google Search a smell option and specific description appeared when certain words were plugged in like maple syrup. According to the feature, Google Nose, Abraham Lincoln smells like a musty “remnant of American history.” Another eye catching premise was Gmail Blue, where everything was simply redesigned blue. The hoax is, in a way, an anniversary joke as well, as Gmail was launched on April 1st 2004.
Other great pranks were more malicious in origin, being humorous threats to users. YouTube announced that it would shut down service, which it only provided to find the best video ever made. The site stated that it would return after the 10 year long process of sorting through content for the contest. Twitter is known for being free, but it announced that the site would soon be making users pay- if they wanted to post tweets with vowels. All those who didn’t would have vowels removed from each tweet, being that they are a luxury reserved only for paying customers.
For advertisers the pranks were centered more around new versions of products, real or not. Sony revealed that headphones aren’t just for humans- their new line of animal products included headphones for cats, dogs, and hamsters. Scope’s bacon mouthwash may have some people’s mouths watering, but it too was a playful fake. Even the Army was getting in the spirit when it announced that the official headgear for soldiers would be cowboy hats.
One of the most interesting fake ads was for AdBlock oddly enough. They announced their new product- ad-blocking sunglasses. Since they do such a good job of protecting users from ads online, they hope to take the cover to the streets. For someone wearing those sunglasses billboards and posters are a thing of the past.
There are countless more examples out there of the media’s playful pranks, and without a doubt next year will top these yet.