« What makes you tip more at restaurants? | Main | Sleep deprived more prone to taking financial risks: Study »

April 01, 2021

The best corporate April Fools' Day pranks

Around this time of year, it’s always tough to tell what’s true or not in the news – no matter where we read it.

Istockphoto_11794738-calendar-month-april Take this Marc Ecko promotion, for instance. According to an ad circulating the Web right now, the fashion brand is offering 20 per cent off in-store merchandise for life to anyone that tattoos its synonymous rhinoceros logo on themselves.

Deals like these have happened before – remember the woman that took $10,000 from PR-mad GoldenPalace.com to tattoo the site’s name on her forehead? – but look at the date on your calendar. It’s April 1st, and this is when companies love to screw with us.

Yes, April Fools’ Day isn’t just the one mark of the year when you can pretend to dump your girlfriend or, without consequence, come to work with a banana in your slacks. It’s also a time for corporate tomfoolery, and we’re all the rubes.

Some of the world’s biggest companies and businesses have gotten in on the April Fools’ Day game over the years, “announcing” groundbreaking products, services or personalities that seem too good to be true. Of course, that’s because they are, and now many news stories are greeted with our scepticism this time of year. A collection of some of the best company pranks over the past few decades:

1) The Taco Liberty Bell: In 1996, Taco Bell claimed it had bought the famed Liberty Bell and was renaming it for promotional purposes. Angry Yankees poured in calls to the National Historic Park in Philadelphia before the fast food joint set the record straight.

2) Sidd Finch: In a 1985 Sports Illustrated  story, legendary writer George Plimpton introduced Sidd Finch, the next great pitching prospect signed by the New York Mets. According to the piece, Finch could throw a 168 mph fastball despite never having played baseball before; Plimpton claimed he’d instead learned the “art of the pitch” from Tibetan monks, a feat that many Mets fans seemed fine with. The magazine received hundreds of requests asking to learn more about the phenom, who wasn’t exposed as a hoax until later.

3) The Virgin UFO: In 1989, thousands of British motorists pulled to the side of the road when a peculiar flying device was spotted descending on London. Cops showed up, and three officers even approached the saucer-like UFO with their billyclubs at the ready. In front of a huge crowd, the craft’s door popped open to a gasp, only to reveal Virgin Records boss Sir Richard Branson grinning back at his audience. The headline-hungry Branson had tricked out a hot air balloon to look like a UFO as a promotion for his Virgin brand.

What are your favourite April Fools’ Day pranks/memories?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money

*Follow Jason on Twitter here.



Post a comment


Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...