Best April Fools’ Day stories

6 months ago 0

Newspapers and PR agencies have once again marked 1 April by publishing made-up stories and press releases.

“Post-truth” and “fake news” have been etched, perhaps indelibly, on the public’s consciousness in recent months; each of them having been named phrases of the year by different dictionaries.

Among the most memorable were the claims that we send £350m per week to the EU, printed on the side of the Brexiters battle bus, and Donald Trump’s inflation of his inauguration crowds.

By lunchtime on Saturday, a dozen or so more could be added to the list as newspapers and press officers continued the age-old (tired?) tradition of April Fools’ Day stories. Here are some of the best:

The Guardian

The paper reports that the professional multi-tasker George Osborne is launching his own clothing line. The MP, newspaper editor, after-dinner speaker, chairman, hedge fund adviser and thinktank fellow is known to favour high-vis jackets and hard hats.

Daily Telegraph

“Science correspondent” Rollo Piaf (no prizes for unscrambling the anagram) reports that a polar bear is living on a Hebridean island, having been “forced to head south after finding itself stranded on a melting sheet of ice that broke away from the Arctic ice cap”.

Daily Mail

“Harry’s secret wedding” screams the Mail across pages six and seven. The prince and Meghan Markle have eloped, the paper reports, but the fact that it is tucked away inside rather than on the front page may arouse suspicion among the Mail’s more discerning readers. The rather paunchy Harry look-a-like and bride’s well-placed veil may also give the game away.

Daily Mirror

Horses in the Grand National will be allowed to wear headphones so they can listen to music, the Mirror reports – in a story “confirmed” by the music streaming firm Deezer’s spokeswoman, Avril Foal (top marks there).

Daily Express

In today’s actually-not-that-bad-an-idea April fool news, the Express reports that a pizza firm is planning to introduce a new heated letterbox that will keep food hot for up to 12 hours. Those who follow the instruction to turn to page 35, however, are dealt a bitter blow.

Meanwhile, never one to miss a chance of some free publicity, PRs across the land have been beavering away for weeks on their April fool press releases in the hope of a few column inches. Here are some of the worst/best:

Virgin Atlantic: the airline reveals the Dreambird 1417, which boasts wings that bend and flex to create a flapping motion that not only propels the aircraft forward but generates its own power to meet every electronic need on board.

To be fair, they have made a well produced and quite convincing video to accompany the not-all-too-convincing press release – complete with an appearance by Beardy himself. Virgin pride themselves on April fool releases, and Atlantic is just one of many flooding into reporters’ inboxes from Branson’s subsidiaries.

Marmite: the makers of Britain’s most love-it-or-hate-it spread announce the launch of Meh-Mite – a blander version of the yeasty toast-topper designed to prove breakfast needn’t be divisive.

Meh Mite
Meh-Mite

Paddy Power: seahorse racing. That’s right, seahorse racing.

“It’s one of those ideas that’ll sink or swim but we’re delighted to be the first sponsor to take the plunge. The little blighters are tough to train and their tiny saddles keeping falling off but I reckon we’ve backed a winner,” a spokesman says.

“Despite initial challenges with training we’ve found them to be one of the most competitive species on the planet,” adds Stephen McMeel, new product researcher at the bookmaker.

Paddy Power have also made a video, of course.

Chill Factore: the UK’s “longest indoor real snow slope”, in Trafford, announces a new snowboarding school for dogs – “proving that you can teach an old dog new tricks”. Its PR agency has also gone to the trouble of making a video, which was definitely worth the effort (71 views so far…).

The Beano: the tweet says it all.

Coca-Cola: while the “launch” of a helium variant of the soft drink is not going to fool too many people, full marks for the quote from Kate Miller, its UK marketing manager.

She says: “We’re delighted to be launching Coca-Cola Helium this year – it really inflates our range of drinks and lifts our fans’ spirits. Popularity of Coca-Cola continues to balloon and this new variant is set to be a flyaway success.”

Virgin Trains: not to be outdone by their airborne colleagues, the rail operator announces the launch of an “innovative new contactless ticket system” – Tick-InkTM – that lets customers have their season tickets tattooed on their body.

John Sullivan of Virgin Trains says: “We wanted to provide people with a clever way of always having their ticket on them. What better way than to have it permanently tattooed on their body?”

See? Branson loves 1 April.

The Cornish Bakery: last, and quite possibly least, is their Easter egg-shaped pasty, which founder Steve Grocutt says is for customers who “can’t bear to replace their daily pasty with chocolate this Easter”.