Brands Are Punking Us Again for This Year’s April Fools’ Day

After largely sitting out 2020, marketers are back with 4/1 stunts

Poop-scented candle, anyone?
The Farmer’s Dog

Are you one of these people who thinks that Velveeta cheese is so scrumptious you just want to bathe in it? Well, now’s your chance.

The legacy brand is dropping V by Velveeta, a collection that includes night cream, moisturizer and renewal serum that “gives you the golden glow you’ve come to love from eating Velveeta, but is now finally available in an indulgent skincare line,” according to Maya McDonald, brand activations lead at Kraft Heinz.

She’s kidding, of course. Watch the spoof ad below:

Velveeta

A return to goofy stunts

These are fake products, and this is April Fools’ Day 2021, where brands are easing back into the prankster holiday after skipping it almost wholesale in 2020, smartly deciding that a global pandemic wasn’t the right time to punk people.

Some marketers are cautiously returning to goofy stunts to celebrate April 1. Most are silly and harmless, like Stryve’s beef jerky-scented soap and a poop-inspired candle from The Farmer’s Dog. 

Still missing are the more cynical approaches of the past, with some executives wondering if this is the new normal. 

“We’ve all seen what happens when brands try to be deceptive or cruel in order to gain attention; they end up with angry responses or unfollows,” Alexis Madison, associate director, digital strategy at Deutsch NY told Adweek. “Considering all we’ve gone through in the last year, consumers are looking for lightheartedness and a good laugh. If your creative idea can’t provide that, then just sit this one out.”

More than half of Americans (54%), by the way, think April Fools’ Day should be cancelled because there were too many surprises in 2020, according to a study from Affirm.

Even so, some brands like Sunday Scaries have created an April Fool’s prank for the first time, aiming to add a little levity to an environment that’s still plagued with third-wave coronavirus concerns in the U.S. and ongoing economic and social justice unrest.

“We’re jumping in now because everyone is looking for a fresh start and a smile on their face,” co-founders Mike Sill and Beau Schmitt said in an email to Adweek. “Getting back to a sense of normalcy is key, so we might as well inject some laughter while doing it.”

Here are some of the standouts:

Ipsy x Jif

Ipsy x Jif

Not to be outdone by a cheesy food competitor, Jif has announced a collaboration with beauty subscription service Ipsy for hydrating and exfoliating products packed with nuts and “good-for-you and delicious ingredients, including vitamins D and E.”

Like many of the faux consumer goods in this list, there’s a chance people will actually clamor for a creamy peanut butter sheet mask. Alert the R&D folks, Jif.

Some like it hot

Jet-Puffed

Speaking of a treat that some folks would pay good money for, Jet-Puffed has added a new SKU to its line of marshmallows: Burnt. This pretend flavor is for those who like their pillowy sugar cubes “burnt to that perfect level of crisp.” No campfire needed!

A ‘delightfully dumpy’ scent

The Farmer’s Dog

On the less appetizing end of the scale, there’s No. 2 from The Farmer’s Dog, a candle that smells like, well, you know. Here, we’ll let the brand give its odiferous description of this Goop-like product:

“With an unmissable, warm, clean and delightfully dumpy scent, this limited-run candle is made of real, fresh and healthy ingredients. Well-digested USDA-certified meat mingles with vacated vegetables—and an unexpected, lone chickpea—inducing heady states of clarity, movement and, ultimately, sweet relief.”

And no joke, the artisanal direct-to-consumer brand provides stats about dog excrement to bolster its healthy positioning. Dogs fed a processed kibble diet produce “hellish cow pies” with 1.5 to 2.9 times more poop than those eating human-grade fresh food, according to The Farmer’s Dog.

“Your dog’s doodoo may never smell like a celebrity’s nethers [referring to Gwyneth Paltrow-Goop’s hot-selling item, This Candle Smells Like My Vagina], but the smell of high-quality poops produced by a fresh diet is truly the smell of a healthier dog.”

Cat-astrophic takeover

Senior executives are in the cross-hairs this April 1 (see below), and Tom Ascheim has been ousted as president of Warner Bros. global kids, young adults and classics. His replacement? A trio of felines that have unveiled the rebranded Cat-toon Network as the cable destination for cat-tastic programming.

A sampling of the new comedy, drama, reality and news shows: The Big Bang Tabby, Keeping Up With the Katdashians, Tiger King Jr., Game of Paws, Love-Cat Country, Meowalorian, Abyssinian Cooper 360 and Meow Cats Go (see video above).

This move comes as the American Pet Products Association reports that there are now more than 42 million kitties living in U.S. households, outnumbering dogs. The Cartoon Network overhaul? Sorry, pups, but it’s a demo thing.

Who’s the boss?

GE Appliances

Making people feel bad on April Fools’ Day is inadvisable for any brand. But poking fun at yourself? That’s a potential win.

In that vein, GE Appliances teases its chief commercial officer Rick Hasselbeck, showing his staff falling asleep during his long-winded Zoom presentations. The brand sends the exec out to deliver boxes of hot air, which he apparently has in limitless supply. (Some of the “gifts” even arrived by drone because Hasselbeck could only cover so much ground). The stunt actually promotes air-fry technology upgrades available for more than 30 wifi-enabled smart ovens in the brand’s portfolio.

And another high-level exec, TGI Friday’s CEO Ray Blanchette, has been knocked off his perch, but not by a cat-led coup. It’s his own childhood dream of running away and joining the circus that has him trading the board room for the tight rope. 

“It’s time for me to move on to new heights,” he said. He’ll stay on as a board member with the restaurant chain, according to the company’s press release, but devoted only to the “Under the Big Top” initiative that built Covid-safe outdoor dining areas in its parking lots. 

‘Rarest of Them All’

Outback

On the heels of its limited edition sweatsuits—real clothing dubbed “Steak Wear Swag” that debuted in January—Outback launches into the beauty category with its “lipsteak” collection of “fashion-forward colors” like The Rarest of Them All and Kiss and Medium Well, according to Deutsch New York, which handled the stunt.  The blood-red glosses “will have you looking like a delicious entree,” the agency said in a statement. The faux products will appear across social channels but, alas, won’t land in anyone’s makeup bag.

Only burns for one hour

Sunday Scaries

There’s a new way to experience CBD: through smell. 

Not really. 

The folks at Sunday Scaries decided to take a well-timed, good-natured jab at the hemp industry “that’s launching any type of product from underwear to dermal patches and then slapping CBD on the label,” said co-founders Sill and Schmitt.

For its inaugural April fools’ joke, the brand developed a candle that smells like “dirty laundry, burnt pizza crust, stale beer, 3 a.m. texts to your ex and existential dread.” It burns for one hour and it’s perfect for “feeling sorry for yourself” and “chasing your roommate out of the house.”

It’s not a real product, but “it can be—we might actually have to manufacture it because it’s going to sell, haha,” they said via email. “It smells like overcoming your dumpster fire decisions.”

Fly me to the moon

Jones Soda

Elon Musk isn’t the only one to offer trips into the stratosphere. Jones Soda is doing the same, saying it will send the consumer who submits the most bottle caps to space. 

But there’s a catch. The “spaceship” is the brand’s repurposed 24-foot RV that’s been traveling around the country. That truck—a veritable halfpipe on wheels—has played host to skateboard icon Tony Hawk and pro BMX rider Rick Thorne.

“For our 25th birthday, we want to go big,” the brand posted on social media. “Like out of this world, RV into space big.” 

Do not—repeat, do not—get on this “aircraft.”

Peepsi follow up

Peeps

It’s nearly Easter and Peeps are everywhere at the moment, even in Pepsi. Now the springtime favorite candy brand is collaborating with Green Giant for cauliflower-flavored Peeps. There will be two giant marshmallow bunnies “with a hint of cauliflower” in each package. “Whoever said you can’t combine vegetables and sweets has not tasted our latest innovation,” said Kristen Thompson, Green Giant brand director. And they never will, unless these two heritage brands make the odd combo a reality.

Bringing up the rear

PooPourri

PooPourri has built its massively successful brand on destigmatizing a certain bodily function, and 4/1 is no different. This year, the company puts two relatable truths together—everybody’s working from home, and no one even has time for bathroom breaks—into the Doo Desk.

This clever multitasking piece of furniture contains a space heater, mini microwave, foot hammock, ring light, background options, pedals for the active employee and drink holder. There’s also a sound muffler and a bidet that make it “poofect for virtual happy hours, baby showers, birthday parties and more—get to business while doing your business.”

It’s blessedly fake, though there are likely bootleg versions out there. Please don’t tell us, we don’t want to know.

Recommended articles