Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Allen Wastler Commentary:
Wastler's Wanderings by Allen Wastler Column archive
April Fool's greatest hits
There have been plenty of good corporate pranks over the years. That's why we're on our guard.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - The dreaded April Fool's Day. For some it's no more than the occasional whoopee cushion or a prank phone call.

Around here, it is a time of suspicion and fear. You see, you don't want to be the media outfit that falls for a corporate gag.

The Lotus Elise
The Lotus Elise "Load Lugga" with some special "features."
More bright ideas?

Google, of course, bears a lot of blame. Back before it was a publicly traded member of the establishment, it played a couple of April Fool's pranks.

In 2002 it revealed the secret behind its searching system ... specially trained pigeons that sort Web pages by relevance.

The following year it followed up with a job posting for positions at its new lunar research station. Both announcements got enough of a stir that the company got a little bit of the Boy-Who-Cried-Wolf treatment when the search giant announced its new Gmail service on April 1, 2004.

Google seems to be straightening up ... after all, it has become the butt of Wall Street jokes for recent flubs in its financial presentations. But other companies still try.

Lotus Cars, for example, has an announcement coming out April 1 about its new "Load Lugga" pick-up truck (see photo).

And Google (Research) wasn't the first. History is littered with businesses getting April Fool's Day yucks -- and some free publicity to boot.

-- Like Taco Bell buying the Liberty Bell and renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell.

-- Virgin Cola creating cans that would turn bright blue (like Pepsi cans) when the cola inside was past the sell date.

-- Burger King coming out with a special Whopper for left-handed eaters. Same ingredients as the original Whopper, but with the condiments turned 180 degrees for the benefit of left-handed consumers.

You can read about these and other pranks at the Museum of Hoaxes Top 100 April Fool's Pranks.

I will note with some pride that media organizations -- ones that should have more respect for the truth -- seem to come up with the best pranks.

Sports fans will chuckle fondly about Sports Illustrated's Sidd Finch. I always liked the notion of NPR's portable zip codes. But for real fun, check out the BBC's report on the bumper Swiss spaghetti crop, for example.

In the meantime, I'll live the next few days in dread.

_____________________________________

Allen Wastler is Managing Editor of CNNMoney.com and appears on CNN's "In the Money." He can be emailed at wastlerswanderings@cnn.com. Top of page

YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS
Follow the news that matters to you. Create your own alert to be notified on topics you're interested in.

Or, visit Popular Alerts for suggestions.
Manage alerts | What is this?