April Fool's round-up: Business dusts off its funny-bone

It's the day the suits attempt to make us all roar with laughter. Or at least snicker a bit. MT looks at the corporate world's best attempts at 'humour'.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 07 Apr 2011
Ah, April Fool’s day: that special day when small children acquire a certain glint in their eye, teenage girls everywhere take great pride in telling everyone who will listen that they’re pregnant (‘with twins!’), and big business casts off the shackles of everyday drudgery and attempts, in its own special way, to demonstrate that even it has a sense of humour. And while it hasn’t necessarily been a vintage year for April Fools, companies everywhere have put in a sterling effort. Enough to raise the odd chortle, at least…

We start our exploration of corporate hilarity at BMW, the company responsible for such classic April Fools’ gags as the in-car OvenCam and slow driving penalties. The car manufacturer’s ad in newspapers today, headlined ‘Marque the Occasion’, was sure to have readers a-rolling on floors as it described a special edition of the M3 (with the usual M3 badge cunningly reversed to read ‘Will’), released in honour of the royal wedding. Available in three colours (‘regal red’, ‘bridal white’ and ‘imperial blue’), it’s also ‘resplendently upholstered’ – in ‘Windsor White Dakota leather’, natch. Lolz rating? 5/10.

To Google, then – another regular on the corporate comedy circuit. Opting for something of a zeitgeisty theme, the company said it had invented a way to use computers’ webcams to control Gmail – calling it, rather originally, Google Motion. Google said it has created controls using ‘movements designed to be simple and intuitive for people of all skill levels’, where leaning to your left will take you to your inbox, and raising your right arm with a closed fist will hit ‘reply’. Lolz rating? Meh/10. Depressingly likely. (And, before eagle-eyed readers berate us for missing out its ‘hilarious’ Comic Sans prank, MT maintains that any joke involving Comic Sans is not funny. Thus, see anywhere but here for details)

Our final special mention goes to the wearer of the most beloved beard in British business, none other than Sir Richard Branson, who laid claim to ex-planet Pluto. According to the report, Branson has bought Pluto in an effort to ‘pave the way for a new age in space tourism’ and is planning to start a campaign to have it reinstated as a planet by ‘re-structuring’ Pluto, bulking it up with captured asteroids. Curiously, though, no mention of Virgin Galactica. Lolz rating? 7/10. Close, but a missed opportunity.

Of course, there were plenty of other business hi-jinks afoot today (Groupon ‘presents’ April Fools’ Day, anyone? Entrepreneurafen? The Mirror’s fresh air tax?), but we couldn’t possibly cover them all. For its part, MT is already working on ours for next year. So far we have this: ‘a man walks into a boardroom. Hilarity ensues’. Hmm…

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