April Fools’ pranks that actually worked

TELLAL's Best of April Fools

It might not be a public holiday, but April Fools’ Day has become somewhat of a universal tradition.  Even Emirates likes to get in on the act, this year with drone taxis and previously with their viral see-through plane concept.  For many of us, it can often be the day when we read something rather more surprising in our news feed, before having to remind ourselves that it might actually be ‘fake news’.  But in a global environment that is trying to combat ‘alternative facts’ and help people wise up to sourced materials and trusted news avenues, can one still get away with a good April Fools’ prank?  The ideal April Fools is undoubtedly one that sparks a surprise or conversation, is actually plausible (at least in part) and doesn’t cause offense or pain.   A lot of brands and individuals like to give it a try on this annual comedy holiday, but many fall short; Instagram is currently super mad at Justin Bieber for his ‘pregnancy prank’. 

The origins of April Fools’ Day are somewhat murky, as one might expect from a less than illustrious occasion.  There are purported, and disputed, references to it dating back as far as the Middle Ages and from such characters as Geoffrey Chaucer, French poet Eloy d’Amerval and the English writer John Aubrey.  In France, Italy and Belgium, the tradition is commonly known as April Fish, when a paper fish was attached to an individual’s back without them noticing; today subtle mentions of fish in an article are often used to signal a piece might not be entirely sincere. 

Whether you have been pranked or are convinced you could spot a fake, there have been some laudable examples of (somewhat) harmless April Fools’ that got us chuckling.  From e-harmony launching a dating site for your pets, Virgin Australia offering Kids Class on their flights and a news report prompting viewers to ask how to grow their own spaghetti, there are so many classic pranks to choose from. Spanning radio, tv, newspapers, governments and celebrities, here are our top picks for winning April Fools’ jokes. 


Jumping for joy

The normally serious BBC took the plunge into April Fools’ in 1976 when they aired an interview with famous astronomer Patrick Moore.  He claimed that at precisely 9.47am the rare alignment of planets Jupiter and Pluto would diminish the earth’s gravity.  He informed listeners that if you leapt into the air at that exact moment, you would experience an amazing floating sensation. Oddly enough, this so-called phenomenon left lots of people feeling pretty stupid, but more worryingly, the BBC switchboard received hundreds of calls from people claiming to have actually felt it!


A diversity-friendly burger

In 1998 Burger King announced the launch of the ‘left-handed’ Whopper.  In an effort to support the 30+ million left-handers in the US, they would be rotating all the ingredients by 180 degrees. Their full page ad in USA Today got far too many people excited and resulted in stores having to deal with customers ordering both the left-handed and the right-handed Whopper. 


Naughty PR

In 1996 the devilishly creative PR team of the now discontinued Virgin Cola Company released a statement claiming that customers could now tell if their soda was out of date; the can would turn blue.  This kind advisory to avoid buying blue soda cans just happened to coincide with Pepsi changing their cans to a bright blue. 


Going through the motions

In 2011 Google decided it was time to launch a brand new service to transform everyday tasks.  Google Motion was designed to allow users to control Gmail with body movements.  It even came with a very authentic looking instructional video and led to far too many people attempting weird moves in front of their computers. 



Game of Bones

Last, but not least, Maisie Williams gave Game of Thrones fans a little bit of a fright this year when she revealed a crucial spoiler on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.  For those of you eagerly awaiting the final season of the hit TV show, you may have noticed the cast doing the publicity rounds whilst being sworn to secrecy over any actual details.  Letting anything slip is totally forbidden, so this clip from her interview was quite the shocker and racked up well over 9 million views.  Spoiler alert, it’s about her character’s early demise…


Jyoti Cropley
Teacher Training Manager
April Fools’ pranks that actually worked
As Teacher Training manager at TELLAL, Jyoti is engaged with the development of pre-service teachers and leads the International Professional Certificate in Professional Practice for in-service teachers across the GEMS Network.
April Fools’ pranks that actually worked

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