The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Beware, a horde of thirsty brands is launching April Fools’ jokes early

Just Born Quality Confections/Energizer

April Fools’ Day was once a fun holiday online, and then it became an overwhelming crush of corporate brand pranks. But at least, reporters on the misinformation beat could tell themselves as they sobbed into their keyboards, it was only a day.

This year, the joke’s on us, because the brands have started launching their April Fools’ pranks early. With the actual day falling on a Sunday and Easter, April Fools’ Day has stretched itself out, reaching for the more lucrative weekday news cycle.

April Fools’ Day is a garbage holiday. Here is its terrible history.

Rent the Runway blasted out their joke on Thursday: Rent the Runway for Dogs. The fake clothing rental service for your pet could pair with another early prank, Petco’s fake salon that makes you over to look more like your pets. By Wednesday, SodaStream was running ads on YouTube and Google for its fake April Fools’ product: a bubble bath machine called “SodaSoak.” The joke also involves Bed Bath and Beyond.

Here is a selection of other brand pranks that either launched before April 1 or were sent to me without an embargo for the actual day. I’ve been getting April Fools’ pitches since late February, so this is an incomplete list:

Also, T-Mobile mailed me a pair of shoes:

(The joke is, they are bringing back the “sidekick”, and are actually selling a version of the joke that you can buy for real)

I asked SodaStream to explain why it launched its “SodaSoak” prank so early. Matti Yahav, vice president of global marketing, said that it was mainly because of the timing of Passover and Easter this year, “a time where the news cycle’s focus will be diverted.”

“Corporate April Fools’ ads have grown in popularity over the last few years,” Yahav said, likening the phenomenon to the corporate attention competition of the Super Bowl ad lineup.

“Like their Super Bowl counterparts, brands see value in April Fools’ gags as a way to boost awareness for their products while showing some personality through views on the ads themselves, and also news coverage of the ads — which in turn, drives additional views.” Yahav added, reminding me that this is all partially my fault.

On Sunday, we’ll be tracking every April Fools’ joke on the Internet that we can find — as we have in previous years. Please keep me in your thoughts.

This post, originally published on March 29, has been updated to include shoes. 

More reading: