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