April Fools’ Email Roundup: Did They Leave Us Laughing or Unamused?5
April Fools’ Day gives email marketers (and marketers in general!) the perfect opportunity to show their brand personality through witty and funny techniques. Here at Litmus, we anxiously monitored our inboxes all day (yes, we are email nerds) waiting for the April Fools’ emails to roll in. And, while our inboxes were cluttered with them by the end of the day, we were left feeling pretty unimpressed.
Don’t get us wrong, there were some absolute gems that left the team laughing, but, for the most part, we saw a lot of the same tactics used. In particular, many retailers (over)used variations of “No joke!” in their subject lines, which became mundane very quickly.
Let’s take a look at what ended up in our inboxes this April Fools!
JOINT EMAIL MARKETING CAMPAIGNS
This was somewhat unexpected! Clearly, joint marketing occurs all the time, but I was surprised that it occurred in the context of April Fools’ email campaigns.
Timbuk2 and Anchor Brewing
Timbuk2—whose emails tend to be witty and fun (even their transactional ones!)—and Anchor Brewing joined forces for one of our favorite April Fools’ emails! They partnered together to develop the Dehydration Backpack—a “highly technical, exceptionally practical, keg backpack.” Not only did they include an entertaining video on the landing page, but the text throughout the email was witty as well. My favorite part? “Limited Edition – only 1 unit made.” And, don’t worry, “Frat boys love it!”
The idea behind this campaign was unique, funny, and definitely made us laugh! It was an April Fools’ email success.
TOMS and Uber
Another April Fools’ email collaboration came from TOMS and Uber. In their email, they launched ShuberX, “the next step in transportation.” Like Timbuk 2 and Anchor Brewing, they also linked to a video in their email to explain ShuberX. However, there were no details about the product in the email itself and I wish there had been! From looking at the email alone, you’d have no idea what the product was (although, from the punny name, it’s likely one would know it’s a joke!).
The video is entertaining and definitely made me laugh! ShuberX combines “the comfort of TOMS with the mobility of Uber.” Essentially, they replace Uber’s cars with cardboard boxes (it’s all about sustainability!) and drivers pick up their recipients and “drive” around while wearing TOMS shoes. One of Uber’s engineers asks, “What better way to activate our riders than to literally physically active them?” Very cheesy but we liked it.
And, while ShuberX is a complete fabrication, at the bottom of the landing page there is information about a real partnership between TOMS and Uber. For every new Uber driver that enters promo code “shuberX,” $10 will be donated to TOMS.
LOTS OF REPETITIVE SUBJECT LINES, NO JOKE
Some retailers tried to cut through the April Fools’ inbox clutter by declaring not a joke or not foolin’ in the subject line. While we understand the sentiment in this tactic, it lacked originality and actually did the opposite of their intent—it caused their subject lines to blend in rather than stand out. And, we weren’t the only ones who noticed!
If I see one more email with a "This is no joke!" subject line, I'm going to probably do nothing but continue to be annoyed. #April1st
— Allison Logan (@acandreva) April 1, 2014
How many stores can use the it's no joke sale for the subject line in their email? #creativemarketing
— Lora Thiessen (@ortlors) April 1, 2014
"These deals are no joke," Every email subject line today.#AprilFoolsDay
— Lindie Stauder (@Lindie_Stauder) April 1, 2014
While we commend their efforts to do something with the holiday, a little more creativity could have gone a long way.
Subject line: No Jokes, Just Whiskey. And Leather Briefcases.
Subject line: These savings are no joke. (+free shipping on everything)
Subject line: $50 Off Your Purchase – Today Only: And we’re not foolin’.
Shoppe by Scoutmob
Subject line: win $2,000 of whatever you want on Shoppe by Scoutmob (seriously. no April foolin’.)
Subject line: 256GB SSD $109…Home Theater $39…With prices like this, the joke’s on us!
Subject line: No Joke: 25% Off!
Subject line: 41% off? It’s no joke!
OUR FAVORITE APRIL FOOLS’ EMAILS!
Like all of Lomography’s emails, this one is full of great imagery and has an infographic-like feel. And, the spoof is hilarious! In this email they launch the Lomography Super Photo Spray, which enables you to take photos on any kind of 35mm film without having to use a camera simply by spraying the film roll.
The email includes a step by step guide about how to product works. They really worked hard to make this fake product seem real! The final step of the process states,
Please note that due to the intensive strength of the super spray, a regular photo will take approximately 24 hours to produce and a long-exposure can take up to 2 weeks.
This long (and hilarious!) time frame is also present in the video, which is linked to from the email. The video is also great so check it out!
Code School also had a nice April Fools’ email in which they launched a new class, Try Flux. Try Flux is a course that lays the foundations for time travel (that’d be pretty nifty, eh?). The email is simple in both design and content, all while being unique and fun!
The landing page is also great!
It continues the fun, witty language but reveals that it has a zero percent chance of working and there is “a lot of equipment currently on fire.” They also admit that “long-distance time travel isn’t quite ready for testing, but short-distance time travel is.” They then encourage their subscribers to travel back to yesterday’s launch of “Surviving APIs with Rails.” Clever way to promote a course!
ThinkGeek also had a great April Fools’ email that was not as blatant as other emails—upon first glance some of the products in the email looked real! However, it was actually chock full of joke products, like the Mr. Beard Machine (picture a Keurig but instead of coffee, you get any type of facial hair) and a Unicorn Drinking Horn.
When I was going through the email, the product descriptions were so detailed and realistic that I was actually unsure whether some of them were real or not! The product pages were even more detailed. It wasn’t until I would try to add a product to my cart that I realized their trick had worked on me.
How great are the “gotcha” landing pages? I love that they use it as an opportunity to cross sell actual products that are somewhat similar to what their subscriber was trying to purchase.
This email really made me laugh! First of all, obviously unsubscribes are associated with emails, so I found it especially witty. Secondly, I thought the whole concept of the “Ultimate Unsubscribe” was creative and unique! Everyone can relate to wanting to get away from it all so most subscribers would find it comical.
SOME OTHER GOOD ONES…
- King Arthur Flour
- FreshBooks—Thanks to our Twitter follower @SandiSolow for submitting this one!
DID WE MISS ANY GOOD ONES?
Did we miss your favorite April Fools’ email? Share it with us in the comments section!
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