Brands unleash April Fools’ Day trickery—UPDATED

Every year, brands tend to jump on special occasions with the enthusiasm of a cat attacking a red dot on a kitchen floor. And without fail this sees consumers inundated with promotional material related to Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day and pretty much any other day that has even slight significance to someone. So, in what has come to be an annual tradition, here’s a rundown of how various brands—including Google, Campbell Live, GrabOne and BMW—attempted to trick gullible consumers this year.              

Google got in on the fun, turning Wellington and Auckland streets into a giant game of Pacman. The game can be played in Google Maps on desktop computers or mobile devices that have the latest app update for Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android software.

But April Fools’ tomfoolery is nothing new for the search juggernaut. Google has been at it since 2000, advertising job opportunities on the moon, introducing fictious drinks and even launching a faux service called Google Romance.    

Whoever is in charge of Campbell Live’s social media told a bit of a porky pie to the New Zealand public, saying John Campbell would be featuring on the New Zealand version of Dancing with the Stars 2015, which was posted on social media on Tuesday. The post read: “Breaking news. John Campbell is the first contestant confirmed on Dancing with the Stars 2015. Embargoed till 7pm.”

Campbell responded by tweeting: “You think you’re funny, don’t you?!?! Let me be very clear about this – you’re not!”

Breaking news. John Campbell is the first contestant confirmed on Dancing with the Stars 2015. Embargoed till 7pm.

Posted by Campbell Live on Monday, 30 March 2015

The Rock radio station had to apologise to its listeners for its April Fools’ prank after promoting a false Foo Fighters concert, which it said would be “…an intimate acoustic show by the American rock act at Auckland venue the Powerstation” yesterday morning.

The station said it expected around 50 people to turn up for the show this morning—April Fool’s Day—at 8.15am. But fans would instead arrive to the station playing a Foo Fighters album on a tape deck. According to Stuff, by 5pm yesterday the station had so many inquiries it had to ditch the stunt and fess up, apologising to listeners.

Programme director Brad King said the station received inquiries from fans, record labels and promoters. People were booking the day off work and planning to drive or fly to Auckland, he said, and more than 2000 people could have turned up at the venue.

Apologies have been running on The Rock, while a banner explaining the situation was put up at The Powerstation for anyone who hadn’t caught wind that it was all a joke.

Pak ‘n Save sent out a release claiming to have launched an on-site beauty service called Pak ‘n Shave. Pretty believable, right. Here’s a bit of information from the release:

The hair service, Pak ’n Shave being offered includes, the ‘Stickman’, beard and moustache maintenance or removal, chest and back waxing, as well as the ‘Costa Rican’ which Bayliss says is not for the faint hearted. Prices range from just 50 cents to $5.50.
When asked if he had sampled any of the services, Bayliss explains, “Nose hair sculpting really is an essential part of manscaping for the modern Kiwi bloke. At just 50 cents per nostril, it’s hard to beat value.”

The gag even includes a price list and accompanying promotional material for the on-trend Stick Man hairstyle.

The Otago Daily Times pranked (or attempted to) its readers, including an article in today’s edition claiming NASA was linked to “…an apparent unauthorised flight over Wanaka yesterday morning by Sir Peter Jackson’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car.”

The story said:  “The technology used to levitate the famous flying car – the star of Ian Fleming’s classic 1968 film – is shrouded in secrecy but future-tech websites are abuzz with theories. A Nasa team has been based in Wanaka launching a super-pressure balloon into space while the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car, which Sir Peter bought in 2011, is on loan to the Wanaka Warbirds and Wheels Museum.”

GrabOne hit a note with busy New Zealanders with its clever wee stunt which would see Kiwis getting 10 minutes “…of their own time” for $2, or 20 minutes for $4. All proceeds earned from the prank will be going to Unicef, and 14 people have already purchased their “own time” at the time of writing.

As GrabOne says: “You might have a distant memory of it. It’s that brief period you get when there is nothing else on your mind apart from putting your feet up with a book, a coffee, some music, or whatever it is you like to do with your own time if you had any. Well today, thanks to GrabOne, you do. You’re welcome, you’ve earned it.”

There are a few conditions however, the deal must be redeemed “while awake – sleeping doesn’t count”. The deal is also transferable to friends, but not your boss, spouse or kids. Sounds pretty good to us.

Outdoor power equipment brand Stihl had a full-page ad in the Herald, ripping on classic men’s razor brands like Gillette for its “Stihl Manscaper kit,” a razor that resembles a weed-eater and is apparently able to “tame the unruly, knock back the bushy, and obliterate undergrowth with ultra-sharp stainless-steel blades designed to cut through even the most resilient of man fuzz.”

BMW took an unconventional approach to April Fool’s which one could almost refer to as an anti April Fool’s prank. The car brand ran an ad in the Herald as an “April Fool’s special” where it would provide the first person to trade in their car and bring the April Fool’s ad coupon along to a BMW dealership with a brand new BMW, the Herald reported.

It was Tianna Marsh who was lucky (or gullible) enough to get there first in her 15-year-old Nissan Avenir and was rewarded with a $50,000 BMW Series 1 in exchange for the old station wagon.

BMW spokesman Ed Finn said: “This year’s effort, our most audacious and elaborate yet, is one we’re particularly proud of as we believe this reverse April 1 joke to be a world first, especially giving away a brand new car.”

Finn said the Avenir was now on display at the BMW Mt Wellington head office and would be put up for sale or auction on TradeMe later today.

Money from selling the old Nissan would be donated to GoBabyGo, a charity that provided modified, ride-on cars to young disabled kids, the Herald reported.

ZM’s Fletch, Vaughan and Megan also got in on the action. But rather than following the familiar radio route by pranking listeners, the cheeky trio instead aimed their trickery at co-workers PJ and Jase.


The unlucky duo that run ZM’s Drive Show received a call from the boss at 6.30am saying the ZM Breakfast Team (Fletch, Vaughan and Megan) were sick and unable to do the rest of their breakfast show. Jase and PJ came to the rescue and ended up broadcasting a fake radio show.

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