Car Trend Chronicles
April Fools’ is an Unexpected Event Automakers Like to Celebrate
If there ever was a positive kind of fake news, it would surely be what has become an inexpensive, yet engaging marketing strategy
- Have you ever thought of a pickup M3 or a Toyota van ready for pie baking?
- Some automakers celebrate April 1st every year by making their own jokes
- While silly and simple, those actions can engage especially young customers
Doing marketing implies accepting the continuous task of getting people’s attention. Over time, companies have devised countless ways to do that, whether reusing proven ones in new situations or venturing into entirely new ones. What makes it continuous is that people’s attention changes very easily; one never knows what will be the next new way to put a company and/or a product in evidence.
While April Fools’ Day is generally considered meaningless joke fodder, some automakers have decided to create a marketing opportunity out of it. In short, it consists of creating cars with characteristics which would make them wildly inadequate for mass production and sharing news about them the same way as they do with regular cars. Since the date is never mentioned, someone falls for them every single year.
How are those cars different?
That’s the beauty of it: pretty much anything can happen. Opel and Mini used the 2014 World Cup to give the Astra and the Paceman special editions which got to the point of covering floor and seats with soccer-court grass. BMW and Mini have also invested in non-themed concoctions like the X2’s camouflaged paint seen on this Chronicle’s second photo and a Cooper with body and roof painted with silver chrome finish.
In some cases, the companies get much more creative. BMW and Toyota have created pickup versions of the most unlikely models to receive them — the M3, which was a performance coupé at that time, and the Yaris of the third photo, which was a subcompact sedan originally based on the Mazda2. Toyota took a step further and made the Hiace not only a convertible but also ready for pie baking — and aptly named Pieace.
How can all that engage customers?
First of all, by getting attention. Those cars are shown on the company’s social networks just like any other, so it is very easy for people and press to see them and share the news. Sometimes, the specialized media play along and publish seemingly serious articles which only remind the reader of their true intention through a short note at the end of the text. Once again, someone always falls for them every single year.
Besides that, this is a clever way for companies to connect with their buyers in a light, easy way. Most of them actually reply to viewers’ comments and create short, fun conversations which help them find the automaker accessible, close to them rather than formal and impersonal. Since it is possible to virtually edit photos of existing cars, automakers could engage in that action with less time and money than ever.
While automakers are usually serious and committed to their market goals, it is interesting to observe how some of them enjoy celebrating April Fools’ Day with their own way of joking. What do you think of that practice? Do makers engage in that in your country? Which cars would you like to see transformed and in which ways? Feel free to share your suggestions and opinions about all that using the comment button!