Corporate April Fool's Day Hoaxes
The Clegg GTi Turbo.
A Yorkshire ad agency, Male Winram Tweddle and Associates, placed an ad in the Yorkshire Post describing a new super-car, the Clegg GTi Turbo. The ad claimed that compared to this car "Owt else is nobbut middlin". A phone number was also provided for those wanting more information. When people called this number they were informed that they had "bin 'ad by some poncey ad agency."
BMW Canada ran an ad in the Globe and Mail announcing a new addition to its luxury cars: road warmers. Pivoting convex lasers mounted in front of each wheel would melt ice and snow on the road as the car was being driven. Turbo fans would then remove excess moisture from the road. According to BMW's press release, this invention would "virtually eliminate the need to clear your driveway during winter." The advertisement assured readers that road warmers would eventually become standard on all new BMWs, but until then dealers would install them on older models free of charge.
Moore’s Law Rewritten.
Intel employees circulated a spoof newsletter revealing historical discoveries related to chip-making, such as the fact that archaeologists had uncovered evidence of the existence of chip-making factories in Ancient Egypt. The newsletter quoted eminent archaeologist Lord Dhrystone as saying, "We never imagined we'd find an active semiconductor industry in a major goat-herding area. Too much dust."
The newsletter also revealed the unknown origins of the famous "Moore's law." Apparently Gordon Moore, Intel Chairman, had once scribbled on the back of a phone bill the phrase 'Buy Intel chips. They'll get twice as big every year or so,' as he brainstormed about ways to get people to buy more Intel chips. It was his secretary, Jean Jones, who rewrote the phrase to the more famous, "The number of transistors on a chip will double every 18 months."
A commercial for BMW aired on British TV promoting a revolutionary new technology, "anti-track control," that enabled the removal of tire tracks from the ground. The ad explained that the technology had been developed by East German military authorities, but it could now be used by surreptitious lovers seeking to conceal their tracks from suspicious partners. The spoof commercial was created for BMW by ad agency WCRS. The footage of disappearing tire tracks was created by taking a previous BMW commercial and playing it backwards.
Bank Teller Fees.
The Savings Bank of Rockville, a small, Connecticut-based bank, placed an ad in the Journal-Inquirer announcing that from that point forward it would be charging a $5 fee to customers who visited a live teller. The ad, which appeared on March 31, claimed that the fee was necessary in order to provide, "professional, caring and superior customer service." Although the ad was a joke, many customers did not perceive it as such. One woman reportedly closed her account at the bank because of it. The bank ran a second ad later revealing that the initial ad was a joke. The bank manager commented that the ad really "commits us to not charging such fees."
Website builder Vivid Studios debuted vBay, an eBay parody, which offered users the chance to "sell your junk" or "buy somebody's junk." Potential buyers could peruse auctions such as a Hotwired 1.0 commemorative lunch box, a "drastically reduced" portal kit, and an unclaimed "Cool Shopping Site of the Year" award. The site also included a special section for "antiques that aren't fakes."
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.
Abbey National, a British bank, revealed an April Fool's Day joke that never came to fruition. It planned to offer its customers the ability to download and print money from their home computer. An Abbey National employee said, ""We were going to say that it would suit all those couch potatoes who don't want to go to the bank to get their money out. We would make available a system where you could download money from your personal computer and print it out on paper at home." However, the Bank of England, citing concerns about encouraging forgery, strongly advised Abbey National not to proceed with their joke.
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.