Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

It’s no secret that, in the Winston household, I am the official fool. However on the 1st of April, the whole family gets into the act and everyone does their best to pull the wool over everyone else’s eyes. This morning, my youngest crept into our bedroom with his school bag packed with clothes, his toothbrush and a sack lunch and announced that he was running away from home. Mrs. Winston pretended to cry and the little guy proudly cried out, “April Fools’!” I’m not sure if I should be proud of the fact that he took such delight in making his mother cry pretend tears, but I do love a good April Fools’ Day gag. That’s why, in honor of pranksters everywhere, I have compiled a list of my three favorite gags perpetrated on the American public on this day of silliness.

• Left Handed Whoppers: In 1998, Burger King ran an ad in USA Today, announcing the launch of a Whopper for left-handed people whose condiments were designed to drip out of the right side. Not only did customers order the new burgers, but some specifically requested the “old,” right-handed burger.
• Taco Liberty Bell: In 1996, Taco Bell took out a full-page advertisement in The New York Times announcing that they had purchased the Liberty Bell to “reduce the country’s debt” and renamed it the “Taco Liberty Bell.” When asked about the sale, White House press secretary Mike McCurry replied that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold and would henceforth be known as the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial.
• In its April 1985 edition, Sports Illustrated published a story about a new rookie pitcher who planned to play for the Mets. His name was Sidd Finch, and, although he had never played the game before, he could reportedly throw a baseball at 168 mph with pinpoint accuracy. Instead, he had mastered the “art of the pitch” in a Tibetan monastery under the guidance of the “great poet-saint Lama Milaraspa.” Mets fans celebrated their team’s amazing luck at having found such a gifted player, and Sports Illustrated was flooded with requests for more information. In reality this legendary player only existed in the imagination of the article’s author, George Plimpton.

The popularity of April Fools’ Day pranks illustrates just how important it is to inject a little fun and silliness into life…including life at work. While I do not advocate playing the prankster when it comes to your clients or employees, I do think it’s important to remember to have a sense of humor when it comes to promoting your company.
The Disgusted Mood Dude Stress Ball should make even your grouchiest customers giggle as they squeeze their way to relaxation. Or, remind your clients of their inner child by gifting them with a 4-Piece Crayon Set imprinted with your company’s logo. Most people could use a bit of color in their day and by giving people what they really need (metaphorically speaking), you will be remembered and appreciated. After all, when it comes to marketing, you are nobody’s fool.

Well, I’m off to prepare for my big prank—I’m telling my family that we are going to Hawaii for two weeks and I have to get out my flowered shirt and flip flops. I can’t wait to see the look on their faces when they find out it’s a hoax.