The April Fool corporate prank is slowly becoming a tradition in India’s corporate scene. Inspired initially by Google’s legendary April Fools’ antics, Indian companies are also pulling up elaborate schemes to fool unsuspecting customers. In a follow up of their acts last year, Indian startups went all out this year too in their April Fools’ efforts.
1. Ola Rooms
Ola popped a notification for “Introductions of Ola rooms” on its app today. Those in a hurry to get somewhere might’ve have just dismissed that as another of Ola’s offering, but Ola had a whole plan in store – it was offering rooms that could come to you for as little as Rs. 249 a night. Much like its elaborate Ola Air prank last year, Ola came up with a spoof of a typical product pitch, with founders Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati lending earnest soundbites.
— Ola (@Olacabs) April 1, 2016
Oyo, the actual provider of rooms, too joined in Ola’s caper, admitting in a blogpost that it was in on the initiative, and proudly proclaiming it as the “biggest partnerships that the Indian start-up space.”
2. Uber’s free rides
Ola and Uber compete as much on the street as on their social media activities. After last year’s mess where both Ola and Uber did a take on choppers, this time Uber pulled off a prank that involved people doing Uber’s bidding by fooling their friends in turn. Uber’s generous referral credits are well known, however when the amount is as high as Rs. 999, you know something’s up.
3. Urban Ladder’s hiring campaign for a ‘Senior Mattress Tester’
This job opening would have made for a dream job, had it not been, well, all dreamed up. Furniture startup Urban Ladder did a one-up on other startups by putting up this job opening for a “Mattress tester” on their Linkedin page two days before 1st April. Before you knew it, the job ad had found its way to social media and went viral. Urban Ladder may not be hiring mattress testers after all, but their prank has managed to scoop up more marketing points for the company than any paid campaigns could.
4. Postergully’s Kiosk App
“Introducing KIOSKS. Revolutionising Everything!”, went the subject line of the email sent by art merchandise startup postergully today. The app purported to print anything off your phone using the Postergully Kiosk app and collecting the output near a physical Kiosk installed by the company. A search on Google Playstore led to nothing, and the “check nearest kiosk”, led to the prank page as expected. While this was an April Fools’ prank, Postergully may well be on to something here.
5. Paytm’s iPhone cashback
The Indian government has been trying to crack down on e-commerce companies providing discounts, but Paytm came up with an offer to beat all offers – a 100% cashback on an iPhone.
— Paytm (@Paytm) April 1, 2016
While the 100% off was too good (and too obviously a joke) to be true, the company did offer a 4% cashback on phone recharges after all on the prank page.
6. Stagepod’s protesting marketplace
Given Indians’ penchant for protests and the ample opportunities for one, it makes sense to hire people who are rather good at the art of protesting. Videomaker marketplace startup Stagepod has you covered. After Gundajoy, comes Protestkaro.com – a marketplace for “quality protestors.”
Except, it’s just an April fool’s joke by Stagepod. You will still need to use your contacts and well wishers to stage a protest for you.
7. Swiggy’s international deliveries
Given the spate of Indian startups spreading their wings and expanding internationally, (Zomato, Oyo, Practo, Craftsvilla to name a few), it won’t be surprising if Swiggy actually started taking international orders. Though, we are not sure if these orders would be delivered by planes with nitrogen cooled containers. Like Ola, even Swiggy went all out there, and had a 3 minute video promoting the shtick.
All in all, full marks to all these startups that actively bring in all notable occasions and special days into their marketing and social media mix, and do topical content in style. While otherwise active content spinners like Zomato, Flipkart and Chumbak may be conscious by their absence in this year’s April Fool’s jokes, it’s interesting to see newer players entering the space. Who knows, today’s jokes could be tomorrow’s products. Everything’s possible in the startup world.