Every April 1st, I giddily check my email to see what brands come up with to mark April Fools’ Day. I just love it.

Related: How to Use AMPScript to Improve Email Personalization.

Typically, a handful of brands pay tribute to the day of pranks with mentions of April Fools’ Day in subject lines or perhaps a promo code. But it’s the brands that go all-out or throw a creative twist into their marketing that make me smile. Of course, don’t be fooled (pun totally intended) – brands must joke carefully. There is line between playful and prankish. As I mentioned in last year’s roundup, Google’s “mic drop” prank went south.

Don’t be fooled – brands must joke carefully. There is line between playful and prankish.

That being said, here are a few favorites from this year. (Click each image to view the entire email)

Amazon: What’s new with Alexa?

Why wait until April 1st to start foolin’? Animals are always a bit hit n April Fools’ Day marketing, and Amazon introduced Petlexa on Friday – a day ahead of April Fools’ Day – with this email from Amazon Echo. Petlexa promises to let your dog communicate with Alexa. I loved that the email instructed subscribers to use their own Amazon Echos and ask Alexa about Petlexa. In case you’re curious, see a tweet with Alexa’s response.

IKEA: New at IKEA: Bïgland!

While some may already feel like the Swedish retailer is a playground for adults, IKEA took it one step further. The brand introduced Bïgland – all your favorite things about IKEA, plus a bar, massages, and my favorite – the Arbitration Station (I guess the brand is in on the joke that a trip there may lead couples to argue about home furnishings.). At the bottom, the email is up-front about how the content is in jest and the CTA drives subscribers to a web-based version of the joke.

Fab.com: Nothing to see here….

Fab.com used their prank to do some good: encouraging subscribers to engage with a good cause.

As discussed above, animals are always a big hit. And baby animals? Even better! This year, Fab.com emailed subscribers a pretty pawsome offer – a free puppy with purchase!* I was a bit surprised the disclaimer* didn’t actually mention the joke, but the link took subscribers to a web page explaining puppies weren’t being mailed. I appreciated the puppy GIF, the entertaining dog bios, and most of all that Fab.com is encouraging subscribers to adopt from a local shelter.

Gap: Just dropped: this is a reward for your hard work

Many brands choose to celebrate April Fools’ Day in fairly low-key ways with subject lines, preheaders, and promo codes. Gap enhanced that approach by including “Merry Christmas” in its hero image to get subscribers to look twice. Plus, the 41-percent off marks a tribute to both the day of the holiday – 4/1 – as well as a percentage subscribers don’t normally see advertised.

Petco: Shop away! Free shipping all weekend long!

At first glance, PetCo looks to go the promo code route — free shipping with an April Fools’ related promo code. However, subscribers who read the whole email will find information about the DooDoo Drone 3000. The area is linked to a web page with even more information about the drone. The DooDoo Drone app on the landing page is what really made my head turn, and upon clicking through, the joke is finally revealed. Subscribers who made it this far are treated to an extra coupon and promo code.

RedBox: For Rent: Redbox teeny-tiny houses

RedBox also used SMS as part of its campaign, driving sign-ups to the same web page as the email.

I’ve featured RedBox in years past and it has done it again. This year, RedBox is advertising tiny homes that are even tinier — they’re Teeny-Tiny. The email links to a web page with more info, such as the square footage: 2,592 sq. in., and the note that “the best seat is the only seat in the house.” RedBox also included SMS as part of this campaign and drove those signed up for text alerts to the same web page as the email.

What emails or marketing from brands caught your eye this April Fools’ Day?

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