The best (and worst) April Fools' pranks from B2B brands

What if I were to tell you that specialist lubricant manufacturer WD-40 had released an aftershave? Would you scoff at the temerity of the idea? Or frantically conduct a thorough Google search to see if it was really true? Funnily enough, WD-40 actually did trick a lot of people back in 2010 on a certain day in early April. We covered it at B2B Marketing (in jest, obviously), and to this day, the article still generates a few thousand page views per year.

It begs the question: is April Fools' Day yet another annual bandwagon that B2B brands should be desperately jumping on in order to drive poor, gullible souls to their websites?

We appreciate the irony of jumping on said bandwagon ourselves with this very article, but as this is a critique more than a generic ‘what can B2B brands learn from [insert generic event here]', we’re sure you’ll forgive us. So, without further ado, here’s the good, bad, and the ugly of B2B brands on April Fools' Day.

Google Plastic

Jumping on the virtual reality bandwagon in 2016, Google announced its new VR product Google Plastic, dubbed “the first headset for actual reality”. The video ad featured people going about their daily lives while wearing the “fully immersive, lightweight, and waterproof” headsets: think oversized plastic goggles, much like the ones you used to sport in design and tech class. Poking fun at an emerging marketing trend is pretty brave – Google, take a bow.

Google Cardboard Plastic

The Marketing Lead Tamagotchi

B2B copywriting agency Radix Communications has gone back in time for its 2017 April Fools' prank. I was never allowed a Tamagotchi growing up (apparently I wasn’t a responsible enough six-year-old), so imagine my delight at Radix’s creation of the Marketing Lead Tamagotchi.

This new version “integrates wirelessly with the user’s marketing automation platform of choice, gamificating the entire lead nurturing journey”. It's safe to say the Marketing Lead Tamagotchi is now top of my Christmas wishlist, just above the social selling Swing Bat and customer-centric Furby.

'Tindermisation'

Exploiting someone’s love of crappy 1990’s toys is one thing, but to harass depressed singles a mere six weeks after Valentine’s Day is a step too far. The editorial team at B2B HQ receives a lot of feckless press releases (we were once treated to an email begging us to join the ranks of an LA-based vampire army), but a release advertising Tinder profile optimisation definitely made us chuckle – well, those of us with significant others anyway.

‘Tindermisation’, from agency Enjoy Digital, promises users “comprehensive management of their profile as well as data-driven solutions to the problems they face when using the app”. Online dating gets a bad enough rap as it is, can’t we just let Tinder users swipe in peace?

The Creativity Helmet

From one digital agency to another, MullenLowe Profero went a bit more creative (literally) last year with their Creativity Helmet, a tool that pledged to “take the subjectivity out of creativity”.

According to MullenLowe Profero, the helmet measures temperature, pulse rate and changes in your brain activity to try and capture what's known as the ‘brain blink’, a term coined by cognitive scientists John Kouniosand and Mark Beeman in the 1990s.

Beard insurance

The world of financial services isn’t the most vibrant of places, so Canadian insurance company SunLife must be applauded for its 2015 April Fools' hoax. Exploiting the extreme ‘love of the beard’ craze, SunLife offered beard insurance for protection against “damage, malicious damage and travel cover” – all for a paltry £3 a month.

For this clever ploy that loosely relates to the service it provides, SunLife deserves a tip of the hat.​

SunLife Beard Insurance

The death of @

The glory of OgilvyOne Business’ 2017 April Fools’ offering is that it’s actually believable (well, almost… after a couple of beers). It proposes that the much-loved @ symbol could soon be the victim of a rapacious legal battle, with users forced to pay premium dollar to use it.

With the license arrangements due to come into affect by 2021, and email/Twitter users braced to take the full brunt of the legal lashing, brands need to come up with an alternative solution, and fast. May I suggest the chronically underused Scroll Lock?