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Posted on 04.02.2013

April Fool’s PRanks – Worth it? Or too Risky?

April first doesn't simply mark the first day of the month, but more importantly a day filled with pranks providing comic relief to the workday. There's your traditional harmless office prank, like flipping offices around, changing your co-workers office signature, taping a colleague's phone handset down to the base, sticky-noting cubicles, and the list goes on-and-on. But, on the rare occasion, some companies have tricked thousands of people into believing some truly bizarre things.

Top PRanks of all time:

  1. Taco Bell's "Purchase" of the Liberty Bell - In 1996, Taco Bell took out a full-page ad in six major daily newspapers stating that it had bought the Liberty Bell to help reduce the national debt. The ad said: "It will now be called the 'Taco Liberty Bell' and will still be accessible to the American public for viewing. While some may find this controversial, we hope our move will prompt other corporations to take similar action to do their part to reduce the country's debt." People responded very confused and upset, even members of Congress made phone calls in disgust. Taco Bell followed up with a second press release later in the day acknowledging the prank and despite negative comments they defended the joke by saying that it brought attention to a real issue at hand for the need to better preserve our national monuments. They also donated $50,000 to the upkeep of the Liberty Bell, as well as landing themselves a whole lot of attention.

  2. Burger King's "Left-Handed Whopper" - Finally, some respect for the left-handed folk. In 1998, an ad was placed in USA Today about their newest menu item: The Left-Handed Whopper. As noted in a press release, the burger was said to contain the same ingredients, but was redesigned to "fit more comfortably in the left hand." "This will result in fewer condiment 'spills' for left-handed hamburger lovers," the press release said. "The new Left-Handed Whopper will have all the condiments rotated 180 degrees, thereby redistributing the weight of the sandwich so that the bulk of them skew to the left." People lined up in stores to try the new burger, completely ignorant to the fact that a burger is circular and will fit exactly the same in the left-hand as it does in the right. Burger King issued a press release the following day acknowledging the new sandwich was a joke.

  3. Gmail's Vowel Outage - On April 1, 2010, Gmail's Engineering Director, Sam Schillace, posted a notice for Gmail users stating: "If you logged into Gmail over the last hour (or visited the Gmail homepage), you probably noticed that something looked a bit off: all the vowels are missing. We realize this makes things difficult for all of you who rely on Gmail - whether at home or at work - and we-re incredibly sorry. We take morphological issues like this extremely seriously, so we want to let you all know what happened and what we're doing about it." Throughout the day, updates were posted to the Gmail blog: Update (7:30 am): We've determined that the letter "˜y" is not impacted. Update (3:02 pm): This issue has been resolved. Update (12:01 am): Also, this issue never happened. Happy April 1st. Quite Clever, Google.

Although April Fool's Day jokes can provide a few good laughs, they can also have extremely negative implications and backlash. Protecting the reputation of a brand is a full-time job, and cannot "take a holiday" on April first. Did your office participate in April Fool's Day? What are some funny jokes you've played on your co-workers?  

 

Katelyn Fish is an Account Executive at Lovell Communications. You can view more of Katelyn’s blogs here. Connect with Katelyn at Katelyn@lovell.com, or @katelynfish.

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