In case it has slipped your mind, this Saturday is April 1st, or, as is popularly called, Fools’ Day. The origin of this fun day, when pranking people is encouraged, is hazy. Some believe the tradition began in 1582 when the world transitioned from the Julian calendar, which started the year in April, to the currently used Gregorian calendar. Others think it was to celebrate the start of spring. Though individuals often prank each other, it is corporations that really get into the spirit with elaborate gags. Here are a few that were credible enough to fool people for days.
Brokelyn’s “Hamilton” In the Park
Last year, Brokelyn, an online magazine dedicated to life in Brooklyn, New York, fooled thousands of readers with an announcement that the cast of the sold-out Broadway show “Hamilton” was giving a free performance at a local park in late summer. Those wishing to procure one of the 7,000 tickets available were asked to call a specific phone number. Unfortunately, the number did not connect to a ticket agent but a volunteer at the then presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s campaign office!
Virgin Group’s Glass Bottom Aircraft
Richard Branson the founder, and chairman of the Virgin Group, is notoriously famous for his April Fools’ pranks. One of the best was in 2013 when the company released images of a glass-bottomed aircraft to enable passengers to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the areas over which they were flying. The announcement, which coincided with the airline’s (genuine) new service to Scotland, was so believable that millions of people shared the exciting news on their social media pages and a Chinese publication even reported it as breaking news!
BBC’s Flying Penguins
As we all know, penguins are flightless aquatic birds. However, if a reputable media company like the British Broadcasting Corporation reports a colony of flying Adelie penguins at Antarctica’s St. George Island, and even releases a video as proof, you'd probably believe it! The only catch? The exciting discovery was announced on April 1st, 2008!
Google’s “Mic Drop”
Corporate pranks are usually accepted with good humor. However, every now and again, companies go a little too far, upsetting their customers. One of the biggest misfires in recent history was Google’s “Mic Drop.”
On April 1, 2016, Gmail users were informed that if they replied to a chain of emails using the new “Send + Mic Drop” feature, an animated gif of a minion from the “Despicable Me” movie franchise would drop a microphone. This signified the end of a conversation, allowing the sender to have the final say. According to Google, even if the recipient responded, the message would not be delivered.
While this was untrue, the gag appeared real enough to upset Gmail users. Some worried about the “childish” animations appearing on important and professional emails, while others fretted over losing the entire conversation. The backlash was so severe that Google had to withdraw the feature before the day was over and apologize to their customers.
We, for one, cannot wait to see what pranks corporations and individuals come up with this year!