Seven of the best corporate April Fools pranks

Over the years big businesses have conquered April Fools' Day. Here are some of their greatest gags.

Everyone loves a good April Fools' joke – even the world’s largest companies.

Over the years corporates have really conquered April Fools' Day, possibly stealing the mantle from the media, which now tends to report gags rather than pull its own.

Business gags have escalated in recent times, transforming from ad hoc last minute ideas into sleek, planned-out operations. The best could also be considered some of the most professional publicity stunts the world has ever seen, receiving copious amounts more Tweets, Facebook likes and press coverage than your average media release.

Meanwhile, if 2013 was any indication, 2014 will see some notorious April Fools' veterans like Google and Virgin pull some cracker pranks.

Rather than list this year’s pranks, we decided to look back at some of the world’s greatest corporate April Fools' Day set-ups. If you have any suggestions, feel free to get in touch with us on Twitter or add them to the comments below.


1. When space is not enough: Virgin’s journey through the centre of the earth


Graph for Seven of the best corporate April Fools pranks

Back in 2012, Virgin announced that to complement its budding space tourism plans the company would be launching a capsule that would travel into the core of an active volcano and allow passengers to “travel through the earth rather than go around it”.

Virgin also lined up a number of celebrity “volcanuts” who paid over $1 million to be a part of the capsule's first voyage. And to dupe the internet, it posted during Vanuatu’s April Fools' Day, so that it would hit the US hours before April 1.


2. Ever wanted to virtually crush a union movement? Now you can with Toshiba’s Shibasphere

Last year, Toshiba used April Fools' Day to announce its new foray into gaming: the Shibasphere. Toshiba said the console was a "game-changer" that allowed players to interact with games without the need for a controller or a motion camera. 

But what’s more absurd than the console itself is the list of launch titles Toshiba planned for its debut. On its device, players could compete in a global online stare down, crush union uprisings in the title ‘Patriarch 2013’ and experience the joys of airport security with the game ‘Let’s travel’.


3. Google’s nose for search

It’s a tough job to pick Google’s best prank.

The giant has pulled some pretty professional-looking jokes over the years, but we couldn’t go past last year’s prank: Google Nose, the 'search by smell' tool.

It’s also worth mentioning Google Australia’s efforts to join in on the fun back in 2008, with the G-Ball.

Graph for Seven of the best corporate April Fools pranks

It’s a shame that this is actually a joke; the gBall looks like a pretty handy device.


4. Mini defies gravity and solves the world’s parking problems

Back in 2003, Mini took its April Fools' Day prank to a new extreme and posted this ad in newspapers across Sydney.


And to further reinforce the prank, the company stuck a car to a billboard in Georges Street, Sydney with the tagline “park wherever you please”.


Graph for Seven of the best corporate April Fools pranks


5. When Dick Smith brought a bit of Antarctica to Sydney

Sometimes the best pranks aren’t the newest. Well before Google was even conceived and Mini started plastering cars on walls, Australian entrepreneur Dick Smith had a vision to pull an iceberg from Antarctica into the Sydney Harbour. At the time, he contended that ice from Antarctica could solve any water shortage problems in Australia.

On April 1, 1978, he made that goal a reality by towing what looked like an iceberg into Sydney Harbour.


Graph for Seven of the best corporate April Fools pranks

He then moored it near the Opera House and began selling shards of the berg for 10c a pop, saying that the cold ice would refresh any drink.

It was all going so well until a downpour washed away the foam and shaving cream that formed the iceberg. And as for the ice, Smith was simply pulling cubes out of a fridge on the barge and selling that to the public.


6. Don’t pay with a card, pay with your dog

The UK’s Barclaycard took the payment revolution to a whole new level with this payment chip that fits in a dog’s collar.

Then again, considering some of the other insane things people buy for their pets, this might not sound like such a crazy idea to everyone.


7. Wolf-pigeons and Shark-falcons: Qualcomm takes ‘convergence’ to a whole new level

No point trying to explain this one. Better to just let you watch the snazzy-looking video…


Written with Oliver Georges and Scott Tomkins (@Sco_to).  Have we missed an amazing corporate prank? Let us know in the comments below or tweet the reporter @HarrisonPolites.

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