April 1: The Day That Was For Brands

By Saumya Tewari , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | April 02, 2015
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Brands devised the most creative ways to engage and 'fool' around with consumers on the eve of April Fool's Day.

On April 1, brands across categories put their most creative foot forward in tickling consumers' funny bone. Leading the pack were a bunch of digital companies coming up with innovative pranks leaving consumers confused and social media abuzz with discussions and shares.

Bengaluru-based online cab booking service, Ola extended its #ChaloNiklo campaign to new heights and launched a video announcing a new service called Ola Air, a personal city-based chopper service that can be accessed through its app. Rolled out in the wee hours on Fool's Day, the video featured the top brass of the company dolling out information on the features of the Ola Air App. The app allows people to use the newly launched Ola Cafe food delivery service in air. The company even created a fake microsite to give life to the idea - www.olaair.com. The idea was conceived by Happy Creative, Bangalore.

Ola Air launch video

Tweets on Ola Air service

Sudarshan Gangrade

Sudarshan Gangrade, vice president - marketing and category head at Ola tells afaqs! that they wanted to do something that seemed believable and hence, take off from Ola's core business of transport.

"Consumers across the board have played along with us in great spirit. We were surprised when users also began to post pictures of Ola Air rides they are taking. We have been trending on Twitter India at various times through the day," he said.

While Ola took to the skies, its rival Uber tied up with UK-based toy chain Hamley's India to bring in a unique experience for its customers. In a blog post Uber says that its app users in Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Chennai, Kolkata, Chandigarh and Jaipur will get a chance to grab a joyride in a Lamborghini or a Ferrari under its 'Uber Supercar' initiative, between 2 PM and 4 PM, for free.

The Uber Supercar button was automatically activated for iPhone and Android app users at 2 PM. Once a request was sent for the supercar, the app asked to set the location after which depending on the availability a car (toy car, to be precise) was sent for a free spin.

The company awarded each user who used the Supercar prank by giving a free ride worth Rs 600.

Online recharge platform Freecharge resorted to 'social good' and created a believable use case launching a new feature called 'Buzzkill' on its app. The video announcing the feature is in line with the Ola Air app where its top technical resources spell out the motivational force behind the launch - "the growing smartphone usage and power cuts in Tier II and III cities pushed them to consider launching a feature that repels mosquitoes."

Uber Supercar campaign in association with Hamley's

Freecharge Buzzkill video

Ashish Virmani

Ashish Virmani, AVP - marketing, FreeCharge, informs that they received hundreds of queries with people asking us to provide them the link to the App.

"A coupon/deal site even picked this offer up and posted it on its forums, before realising it's a prank," he chuckles.

The prank has already received 9000+ likes on the company's Facebook post, 150 shares on social media and 4000+ views on YouTube.

Virmani says that they were inspired by Apple launch videos as a product launch done in this manner creates intrigue, there is no clutter onscreen and focus is on the product and its features.

"We created an actual working mock-up on an Android phone, shot visuals to make it more believable," he states, adding that Indian consumers have been evolving and ecommerce customers who own a smartphone are at the forefront of this evolution.

"They get this tongue-in-cheek humour, unless you are offensive in your communication," he notes.

Messenger app service Hike announced that superstar Rajnikant has joined its platform and has agreed to spend a day completely with his fans, present on Hike Messenger. On the occasion, Hike introduced a new chat window to ensure an uninterrupted exchange of messages between Rajnikant and Hike users.

Ixigo's Loo Finder video

Meanwhile, travel search engine Ixigo launched a much-needed app for finding public toilets in one's vicinity. Titled 'Loo Finder', the company released a hilarious video featuring a man in desperately wanting to relieve himself and wandering aimlessly looking for a toilet.

The company's fake app gave users options like Indian toilet, Western toilet, hole in the ground and Government Wall and augmented reality to find nearest public toilets.

Reverse Google April Fool's Day prank

Screenshot of Chrome Selfie feature

Search giant Google had a number of pranks up its sleeve. From reversing its URL and homepage (https://com.google/) to introducing the #ChromeSelfie - a feature that appeared on a website while a user was browsing on it. The feature allowed users to take a selfie and post it on an article or share it with family and friends on social media and via instant messages, instead of cumbersome text.

The company's maps division announced in a video published on March 31, that it's got a new job opening for Pokémon master. In order to find the best Pokémon master, Google developed a Pokémon Challenge calling it "the most rigorous test known to man."

Google hid Pokémon throughout the latest version of Google Maps, and to complete the challenge users had to catch them all. They had to visit Maps on the Web, click on the little Pac-Man icon on the bottom-left of the screen and prepare for nostalgia. On mobile, things were a bit trickier - one needed to solve one of many riddles from a Google support page to find hidden Pac-Man pins at specific locations. Only then did a user see a Pac-Man button that allowed him/her to play by swiping in different directions.

Google Maps Pokemon Challenge video

Screenshot of Gmail Shareable Selfie feature

Google Panda launch video

Google's email service, which completed 10 years, also contributed by introducing 'Gmail Shelfie'- the 'Shareable Shelfie' that can be set as Gmail theme.

Google Japan launched a new product 'Google Panda', touted as "a product so brilliant, you can ask it anything, but so cute you're gonna wanna hug." In the promotional video, the company's vice president of Engineering, Chris Yerga explained the use of the intelligent yet "adorable" Panda - the cute creature answers all your questions just like the search engine and can be hugged too.

Suman Srivastava

Suman Srivastava, marketing guru and chief strategy officer, FCB Ulka, gives a macroscopic view of April Fool's Day pranks executed by brands. In his opinion, brands which are young and irreverent (digital companies) can afford to execute such pranks as their core TG understands the tongue-in-cheek humour and laps up media.

"Traditional brands undertaking such activities purely with a purpose of 'engagement' is a recipe for disaster and can backfire badly," he says.

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