"Do You See Y You'll have an "April fool" on yourself if you miss coming to our store tomorrow?"
The German magazine Echo Continental
ran a feature about a new "ABC mono-cycle":
The ABC-cycle was given that name by the manufacturer because it is as simple as the ABC and can be operated without prior knowledge by anyone, especially a woman. The vehicle is designed as a mono-cycle, the motor, a directionless three-stroke 2 hp. 1.5 Cylinder "Gnomissima" engine is under the seat and pleasingly warms or cools the driver. A kickstarter and convenient footrests make this motorbike particularly popular with women.
April Fool ad for Ten High Straight Bourbon Whiskey [Life
- Mar 27, 1939]:
"You should have seen his face! 'Gosh, Joe,' he says, 'I sure fell for that one.' He takes it like a man though; so I buy him a drink. 'I want to Double My Enjoyment of this,' I tell the bartender, slipping him a wink. He's wise, and sets us up a couple of drinks of that swell whiskey with No Rough Edges..."
"Child psychology!... And who knows better than a youngster what a 'find' Ex-Lax is! Not only because of its good chocolate taste, but for the way it acts! So effective, yet so nice and gentle!
Not too strong, not too mild, Ex-Lax is the 'Happy Medium' laxative... the favorite of grown-ups as well as small fry! As a precaution, use only as directed. Economical 10¢ and 25¢ sizes at all druggists."
Kaufmann's department store in Pittsburgh ran an ad in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
featuring a variety of "out of this world" items for sale in the store, including "zip-on wallpaper" that could easily be zipped on or off, a "mirro dress" with mirrors at the side for a slimming effect, a garden hat with real flowers growing out of it, a sun-tan umbrella with built-in ultraviolet lights, and ceramic paste guaranteed to grow handles on cups overnight.
An ad in the Chicago Tribune
for Carl Buddig Smoked Sliced Beef not only depicted beef, but smelled like it too. This was achieved by mixing "a 12 per cent concentrate of oil of cassia, oil of clove, and maple syrup — ingredients used in the beef curing process" with the printer's ink. Although the ad ran on April 1st, the Tribune
insisted there was "No fooling." It was a real smoked beef smell.
Advertisement for Alligator Raincoats
The Hoffman York & Compton ad agency released promotional material introducing the Caballo XL, a revolutionary new South American car built around 'five-wheel drive' technology. This involved a "unique shock absorbing system" that would allow drivers to go at speeds in excess of 160 mph over rough, bumpy roads. The small firm later explained it issued the release in order to drum up business from the car industry by showing that it could "play in the big leagues".
Volkswagen ran an ad in the London Times
promoting a car featuring a "decomposable roofrack." The tagline read, "It's not an April fool. It's a Volkswagen."
Virgin Atlantic ran an ad noting that the waste gases from champage (CO2
) recently had been found to have "a detrimental effect on the upper atmosphere and contribute towards the depletion of the ozone layer."
For which reason it had commissioned a special "still champagne" to serve on its flights. It promised that the taste was "distinctively dry with a hint of flint."
Ad for the Nissan Micra that ran in the London Times
- Apr 1, 1993.
National Public Radio's All Things Considered
program reported that companies such as Pepsi were sponsoring teenagers to tattoo themselves with corporate logos. In return, the teenagers would receive a lifetime 10% discount on that company's products. Teenagers were said to be responding enthusiastically to the deal.
On March 30, Guinness issued a press release announcing it had reached an agreement with the Old Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England to be the official beer sponsor of the Observatory's millennium celebration. According to this agreement, Greenwich Mean Time would be renamed Guinness Mean Time until the end of 1999. In addition, where the Observatory traditionally counted seconds in "pips," it would now count them in "pint drips." Finally, a Guinness bar would open in the astronomy dome and the Observatory's official millennium countdown would feature a Guinness clock counting "pint settling time" with a two-minute stopwatch.
Guinness issued the announcement as an embargoed release, meaning that reporters who received the release weren't supposed to write about it until the day it was issued to the public on April 1. However, the Financial Times
broke the embargo (not realizing that the release was a joke) and discussed the announcement a day early in an article titled "Guinness to sponsor the Old Royal Observatory." It criticized Guinness for exploiting the millennium excitement to promote its brand name, declaring that Guinness, with its Greenwich tie-in, was setting a "brash tone for the millennium."
When the Financial Times
learned it had fallen for a joke, it printed a curt retraction, stating that the news it had disclosed "was apparently intended as part of an April 1 spoof." Guinness spokesman Roy Mantle said, "The best thing to say is that they pipped everybody to the post and we were very pleased to see that actually in such an august organ as the Financial Times
." In a separate statement Guinness took a more charitable tone, explaining that "The Financial Times
was running a perfectly serious business piece and Guinness faxed over the spoof among other information. It wasn't really his [the reporter's] fault."
introduced its readers to an exciting new company called Freewheelz in an article titled "There Are No Free Wheels." Freewheelz planned to provide drivers with free cars. In exchange, the drivers had to place large advertisements on the outside of their vehicle (such as ads for StayFresh Maxi Pads). Ads would also play constantly on the radio inside the car. Prospective drivers had to go through a screening process, requiring them to submit stool samples and notarized video-store-rental receipts.
The article satirized the much-touted "new economy" created by the internet. Readers who didn't realize this barraged Esquire
with phone calls, wanting to know how they could sign up to drive a StayFresh minivan.
Miller Beer announced it had struck an agreement with the town of Marfa, Texas to become the exclusive sponsor of the phenomenon known as the Marfa Mystery Lights. These are spherical lights which appear south of the town each evening, seeming to bounce around in the sky. They're variously rumored to be caused by ghosts, swamp gas, or uranium (though they're probably caused by the headlights from the nearby highway). Miller announced that under the terms of the agreement the Marfa Lights would be renamed the Miller Lites. The local paper, which was in on the joke, printed the news on its front page.
NPR's All Things Considered
revealed that a California-based company, LunarCorp, had developed a laser powerful enough to project images on to the surface of the moon. It planned to use this to beam advertisements onto the moon, turning the earth's satellite into a giant billboard.
In a field along route 66 near Glastonbury, Connecticut, a billboard appeared that read: "Coming Soon, Hooters." It bore the owl logo of the franchise, famous for its scantily clad waitresses, as well as a phone number. Local officials soon began receiving calls from residents worried that the down-home, family-friendly feel of the town was going to be ruined by the new franchise. The officials responded that, as far as they knew, Hooters had filed no application with the planning department. The next day the words "April Fools" appeared on the sign, which turned out to be the work of a local prankster, John Tuttle. From the Hartford Courant
"Tuttle, a town resident and vice president for the East Coast division of Hillshire Farm, said the joke was months in the making. In the fall, he asked a friend with a sign business to create the sign in hopes of "riling the town up." The town was riled. Tuttle received more than 120 messages over the weekend on his business phone, the number given on the sign. The calls ranged from waitresses looking for work to contractors wanting to build the restaurant to a prominent real estate agent who promised to use his connections to push the project forward."
Virgin Atlantic announced plans to print ads on butterflies:
"Dr Antonia Monteiro at SUNY Buffalo is developing a genetic modification method that would allow companies to put markings such as logos on butterflies by scanning their wings with a laser beam. Virgin is confident that butterfly advertising will become a successful and popular new medium for airlines… Virgin executives say they hope to launch the butterfly program by the spring, allowing time for final testing and lasering of the Virgin logo on the butterflies."
Russian Standard Vodka ran ads in UK newspapers claiming to have created the world's first "lickvert" — an ad dipped in vodka that could be licked to taste the drink. Readers were urged to "Lick Here," though also reminded to, "Please lick responsibly."
The vodka lickverts were a hoax. But real-life lickable ads had existed in the past. For instance, in 2008 Welch's grape juice ran a lickable ad in People
NPR's Marketplace reported
that advertisers were experimenting with genetically engineering food so that it would display advertisements. For instance, it was possible to engineer burger patties so that as they cooked an image of "Mr. Pickle" appeared on the burger. At 160 degrees Fahrenheit, Mr.Pickle would even start to wave.
One ice-cream maker had also created cones with coupons inside the ice cream. The secret coupon code was revealed after you took a bite of the ice cream.
But consumers seemed wary of these food advertisements. One shopper said, "20 percent [off] isn't worth having to stare at ads at dinner."