An iPhone, some coffee with a dash of social media: April Fools’ marketing stunt debrief

cotto-april-foolsIn April 2015, I coordinated an April Fools’ Day marketing stunt that made The Advertiser‘s list of South Australia’s best pranks.

The reason I want to break it down here is because we did everything that I usually preach in this humble, weekly article. We:

  • Started with a simple idea bound to interest our target market
  • Used simple tools
  • Sacrificed perfection for speed and action
  • Used our social networks to spread the ‘fun’
  • Reviewed our outcomes

It starts with wrapping a simple idea in a plan

During a meeting discussing plans for promoting Woodville Road and the various businesses and organisations that abound within that precinct, I wondered out loud whether the slower peak hour traffic would let Cotto Espresso take orders near the train crossing and have them ready out the front of the cafe.

Frank Cecere from Cotto supported the idea and when we realised April 1 was close by, we decided to plan a ‘dry run’ of roadside espresso to give regular patrons something to talk about and to get Cotto noticed by would-be patrons.

We scratched out a running sheet which included working out who was needed, what props were required, when shooting could take place and how we were going to unveil the prank on the day.

Use the tools you already have

I am a big believer in urging small businesses to use tools they already have whenever possible.

Blogging uses your thoughts and images shot on your smart phone, video can be shot and edited on your smart phone, social media marketing can be done on a tablet on your lap while watching telly.

In this case we decided to shoot the experiential video, edit it and publish it all from my iPhone.

Cotto’s in-house photographer, Sam, shot stills, Frank rode in my passenger seat to shoot video while staying out of shot, and energetic staff Declan and Nicole provided the on screen talent.

It was able to all be shot (in three takes) and edited in less than two hours.

Here’s the video:

The story trumped technical perfection

We were all comfortable that leaving the video a little rough around the edges would add to the authenticity.

In your social media marketing, I would encourage you to focus on the idea; if that is strong enough, it will generally carry the day, even when you feel you could have done better.

In essence, we followed the mantra of the late Apple genius, Steve Jobs, whose catch cry was to ‘ship it’ because an idea that is being constantly worked upon and never released can never do anybody any good.

The 90 second video was uploaded to YouTube and directly uploaded to Facebook. And because Twitter can now share video, a 30 second edited version was uploaded there.

I also mentioned directly on Twitter some key media contacts while also using popular hashtags #Adelaide, #coffee and #espresso, which helped disseminate the tweets, like in the one below.

A storm in a coffee cup

In the end, Cotto customers were talking about this concept of roadside coffee at all Cotto Espresso outlets, a dummy story on the Woodville Road website has been attracting web visitors to learn more about the Woodville Road precinct, and The Advertiser featured it, finishing with this question: why doesn’t this business exist already?

There was no special magic in this stunt. It was simply a story that captured the imagination of the Cotto team because they could see that it was likely to capture the imagination of their target market: coffee drinkers.

It was enjoyable for all involved, producing a stronger bond with existing customers and raising brand awareness of Cotto Espresso with the ‘coffee set’ in Adelaide.

What’s more, with the tools at your disposal and the style of thinking I’ve been sharing on this blog for many years, you could have done this too, with little expense for a lot of buzz.