The tradition of April Fool’s Day has been around since Medievil times. Yearly on April 1st, people from various cultures devise practical jokes and hoaxes with a singular goal of fooling the unsuspecting ‘mark.’ For many in Corporate America, April Fool’s Day is a day where each worker cautiously goes about their day, hoping they are not a victim of one of these practical jokes.

Brands have seen the opportunity to use April Fool’s Day as a way to have some fun and generate some news. Google started in 2000 with their now infamous MentalPlex product (a user would ‘summon’ a search merely by staring at a GIF) and continued to what is now a monumental event each year.

2014 was no different as countless companies jumped into the April Fool’s Day mix, trying to trick unsuspecting users, create artificial attention, bragging rights, and most of all, cause a buzz amongst the industry.

Here is a accumulation of the best Brand(ed) April Fool’s Day pranks of 2014:

1. Google Gmail SHELFIE

It is difficult to have April Fool’s Day without Google. This year, the tech giant created 14 different pranks, spanning across multiple products and properties. Much like their arch nemesis Apple, whose birthday is April 1, Gmail was created on April 1, so April Fool’s Day is also a birthday celebration. To celebrate their birthday, Google created the SHELFIE, which stands for SHareable seLFIE. With the practice of a ‘selfie’ being all of the rage (including the most famous ‘selfie’ ever at the Oscars), Google wanted to take the narcissism to a whole new level by creating a Gmail theme of yourself, to share with the world.

Gmail Shelfie

2. RedBox’s Mood Box

Movie rental powerhouse RedBox got into the April Fool’s Day spirit with their Mood Box. This pseudo device claims to change colors, depending on the user’s mood. Blue means you need cheered up, Green means you want an action movie and Gold means you want an award winning film. This idea obviously pokes fun at the predictive nature of many tech devices. RedBox cashed in on their attention by offering a $0.50 coupon for a rental, valid on April 1.

RedBox Mood Box

3. Linkedin’s CYMK

One of the features that business social network Linkedin continuously promotes, is their ‘People you may know’ feature. This feature aims to connect you with individuals you might have done business with, or know on some other level, to further expand your network. This feature is always valuable to find that guy from Accounting, competitor you want to stalk, or the colleague you lost touch with. But on April Fool’s Day, Linkedin introduced CYMK, or Cats You Might Know. This hilarious prank rides the perennial trend of funny cat images, and supplements the hilarity with clever cat names.

LinkedIn's CMYKCats you may know

4. Microsoft’s Return of Clippy

Anyone who has used Microsoft Office in the past, remembers Clippy. The ‘helpful’ office assistant that worked continuously to offer suggestions for which you ‘might’ want, need, or forgot you needed. The much maligned character makes a triumphant return on April Fool’s Day, as Clippy surfaced to help users complete their presentations, documents, and spreadsheets. It appears that Clippy has developed a curious sense of humor on April Fool’s Day reminiscent comments. Long live Clippy…

Microsoft's Clippy

5. Netflix “Sizzling Bacon” and “Rotisserie Chicken” Originals

Not to be outdone by RedBox, Netflix launched 2 different April Fool’s Day pranks. The first of which was a 20 minute ‘Netflix Original’ for Sizzling Bacon and a 73 minute piece for Rotisserie Chicken. Jumping onto the ferociously popular Bacon trend, Netflix got some heavy traction from these originals in a subtle way. The best part of this prank is the engagement it received from Netflix users who felt the food inspired series, were deliciously entertaining.

Netflix Sizzling Bacon

6. Google+ Hoff-Bomb

Another clever prank by Google photobombs your pictures uploaded to Google+ with none other than….David Hasselhoff.

“To get your own photobomb, upload a new self portrait or group photo with friends, and leave a little room for The Hoff,” Google said in a blog “He might just make a surprise appearance. :-)”

This prank helped bring attention to Google+ and get users to remember the social network and hopefully garner some increased usage.

Google April Fools Hoff

7. Tom’s and Uber team up for the ShuberX

Fast growing brands Tom’s Shoes and Uber team up for their prank with ShuberX, a version of Uber’s ridesharing service, where users show up with vehicles power by their own legs. If you are getting Flintstone images in your head, you are not alone. The best part about this prank was this line from an Uber staffer.

“As Uber scales, we simply don’t have the time to reinvent the wheel. So what if we un-invent it?” an Uber Staffer

These two fun-loving brands use subtle, but effective references to their products, and promoted it greatly with a hilarious video.


8. AirBnB’s Rent Out Your Desk

With the new verticals AirBnB is introducing, this hilarious prank actually felt somewhat valid at first glance. This prank added a feature to AirBnb, called AirBrB, where you are able to rent out your desk or work from someone’s else’s desk, anywhere in the world. Need a change of scenary and want to work from Oscar Wilde’s desk, have at it. Going to lunch and want to make some extra money, rent out your desk. AirBrB is your long desired additional revenue stream.

AirBnB April Fools

9. Netflix’s Super Specific Categories

Everyone is familiar with Netflix’s very specific categories of suggested movies, recommended for you to watch. Well, they took it to another level of April Fool’s Day. These hilarious categories do a great job of playing on all the subliminal thoughts and dirty little secrets we have stashed on our Netflix accounts.

Netflix Categories

There are fans and critics of April Fool’s Day pranks by brands, but one thing is for sure, these stunts create alot of attention. With every marketer and agency looking to cut through the noise and gain attention to their campaigns, these clever campaigns were able to garner increased brand awareness. What were your favorite pranks you saw and do you feel this viral tactic is a good practice?