For an entertainment or Internet company, crafting the perfect April Fools gag is a risky bit of alchemy. Come up with something clever — like many of Google’s past spoofs — and it instantly goes viral. Take it too far or make it too goofy, and it lands with a brand-damaging thud. Here’s how this year’s crop are being received.
“Stamos: A Human, Being”: Have mercy on us Netflix! The streaming service debuted the trailer for its latest docu-series, “Stamos: A Human, Being,” on Friday. “So excited about my partnership with Netflix and our new docu-mini,” John Stamos, who’s a producer on the “Fuller House” reboot on Netflix, tweeted about the faux show. “Check out the preview. Full series April 31st,” he continued.
“What is John Stamos? Good question,” Stamos says in the hilarious teaser. “Teenage heartthrob. Worldwide brand. What is a star? A bad boy? A good guy?” Now that’s a joke even Uncle Joey would approve of.
Huludatr: To be fair, this was a lot funnier when Google first introduced Google Romance in 2006. But with the rise of streaming and chilling, and Twitter spreading the word much faster, you can’t blame Hulu for trying it again. “Press Play on Your Love Life,” the service promises, with a healthy crop of promo videos included.
Google Minions Mic Drop: Google actually unleashes dozens of gags each year, from Comic Sans for Everyone to Google Translate for Animals. This year it tried adding a new Mic Drop feature to Gmail which inserted a GIF of a Minion character into emails and archived the message as soon as it was sent. This proved to be an issue for businesses that needed to, like, actually communicate instead of sending Minions back and forth. It was quickly removed (after reportedly getting at least one person fired), but there’s still the virtual reality headset Google Cardboard Plastic and Google Maps Disco to keep folks entertained.
“Star Wars: Legend of Maul” on Netflix: It’s pretty unlikely that the “Star Wars” folks would have been planning a secret live-action series to debut on Netflix, since most “Star Wars” projects are minutely detailed years in advance.
Spectrum auction cancelled: In one of the geekier stunts yet, Media Village reported that FCC chair Tom Wheeler has cancelled the broadcast spectrum auction. How many people will find this amusing besides TV reporters? We’re guessing not too many. “The president (Obama) wondered aloud that if it wouldn’t be better to simply combine all Internet providers into one national company,” the site wrote. Tee hee.
Virgin Airway’s new logo: Some companies got a little too eager and started on March 31 this year. Well, April Fools’ Day does start a bit earlier in the U.K., but still, a little restraint, guys. Keeping with its cheeky branding, the airline/entertainment company introduced a new bra-shaped logo complete with an introduction from founder Richard Branson.
The Joker’s Twitter takeover: This qualifies more as a promotional ploy than an actual gag, but studios aren’t going to let this opportunity go unexploited. In honor of the Joker’s favorite holiday, Jared Leto, who portrays the villain in this summer’s “Suicide Squad,” is taking control of the film’s Twitter accounts. He will retweet the best April Fools pranks and give fan photos a makeover with the #JokerWasHere hashtag. We thought one of DC’s biggest baddies would have something more wicked up his sleeve.
Sony’s Ghost Catching Device: Sony, too, is using the holiday to promote a summer release, with a “Ghostbusters”-themed video touting a new ghost catching device — The Proton Pack. The studio stunts raise the question of whether a carefully timed promotion has the same impact as a gag that actually fools people. Can you actually manufacture a viral hit?