It’s no surprise that April Fools Day makes a big impact on YouTube. There, pranks captured in video form can be shared with limitless viewers, and brands are naturally wise to this. In fact, it’s pretty much expected of any large brand to come up with some sort of April Fools’ “prank” on the internet today, as summed up in report from European MCN Divimove.
This rise in April Fools’ videos year on year is a notable one. The average reach of these videos went up 65% between 2011 and 2012, increased by another 50% in 2013, and then went up by a whopping 80% in 2014, according to Divimove’s data.
Creators’ April Fools’ videos published on this tentpole day perform very well compared to these creators’ other videos posted around April 1. Video views spiked on April 1 for creators in Divimove’s network, as did the number of likes, dislikes, and comments.
Not only are these brand videos watched, shared, and commented on throughout the day of their release. They’ve proven to have some serious longevity. Take, for example, this video about Nike Air. It came out in 2010, and though it has just over 900,000 views (which is a lot, but not huge) it counts nearly 500 comments (some of which went up as recently as one week ago) and over 2,300 likes and dislikes. The video represents a less than believable joke, but one that’s entertaining and clever enough to keep up audience engagement.
This BBC video from 2008 proved an even more popular prank. It showcased a “unique” colony of penguins that could do something no other members of penguinkind have accomplished—they could fly. Not only do people continue to comment on this video today (comments currently number in the 3,000s), but the video inspired the creation of 40 other related videos on YouTube, at least one from the BBC which revealed how the network made the original video (as we all know penguins don’t actually fly—to tropical rainforests, no less). The video’s received over 4.3 million views.
One of last year’s most popular April Fools’ Day videos came from Google. It presented the “Google Maps: Pokémon Challenge,” a competition to become Google’s resident Pokémon Master, and it’s gotten over 16.4 million views since it was posted a year ago. Likes and dislikes nearly reach 16,000, and there have been over 19,700 comments. The video gained so much traction by getting on the front pages of big, digital media outlets all over the world (everyone in the world is familiar with Pokémon and Google, after all).
The takeaway? If brands don’t pull some kind of April Fools’ Day prank on April 1, the joke’s on them.