My birthday is March 31. The year I turned 6, I celebrated with my friends on April 1. This is more commonly known as Brokaw’s birthday, but you might also recognize it as April Fool’s Day. My small friends and I were living it up, feeling the buzz from some carefully planned party games.

Then it was time to eat.  My mom brought in cups of cherry Kool-Aid, the obvious complement to pizza. I went to guzzle that sweet, sweet sugar, but nothing came out. I slurped harder. It didn’t work. I immediately assumed muscle atrophy and figured if nothing else, I’d lived a good six years.

But here’s the thing: it wasn’t cherry Kool-Aid at all. It was Jell-O. Carol Ertle, that rascal, had fooled us.

This is a roundabout way of saying I don’t like pranks…when I am the victim. However, I love a good joke when it’s executed by agencies under the guise of a “publicity stunt.”

The most recent example is Heinz’s “Chicago Dog Sauce.” Heinz repackaged and renamed their classic tomato ketchup in an effort to get the Windy City to embrace the condiment in time for National Hot Dog Day. People were receptive before it was revealed they were, in fact, enjoying ketchup. Got ‘em!

Heinz is following some other accomplished jokesters. Budweiser set up shop in a hipster Brooklyn bar and got beer snobs to sing the praises of Bud by pretending it was, well, anything else.  People were perplexed that they liked it, but Anheuser-Busch won new customers that day—even if they’re drinking it “ironically.”

Finally, Pur’s “Water Bar” combines a stunt with a social message. Since the (ongoing) Flint water crisis, Pur has been informing the public about outdated legal limits for contaminants in water. The “bar” they set up offered tap water from all 50 states, and people were shocked to learn about the impurities—lead, mercury—that might be coming from their spouts.

All of these are representative of good advertising because they upend expectations. They surprise and delight (and embarrass).  The stunts show a level of self-awareness and address any negative connotations head on. Even if the stunt is temporary, the results can live in print and in video. As consumers, it’s a good chance to question what we know and how we perceive different products.

Anyways, I have to run to my therapist’s office—today we’re digging into my trust issues. Until next week!

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