Product / ServiceAPRIL FOOLS' STUNT
CategoryA06. Events & Experiential (incl. stunts)
Advertising Agency DDB GROUP NEW ZEALAND Auckland, NEW ZEALAND

The Campaign

April Fools’ Day is one of advertising’s biggest events. But it had become tired and predictable. When BMW asked us to create an April Fools’ stunt that would receive international attention, we wanted to do something that surprised even the most cynical. So we created a Reverse April Fools’, a test, to see who would risk looking like the ultimate fool, for the ultimate car. We ran a newspaper ad for an April Fools’ Special and stated that the first person into BMW could swap their old car for a new BMW. Then we did the last thing anyone expects on April Fools’ day. We actually did what we said we were going to do. We honoured our April Fools’ day special and gave away a car. We partnered with one of New Zealand’s biggest news shows to cover the story for a New Zealand exclusive that evening. Then utilised the time difference to have the story ready for some of the biggest morning news shows in USA.

The Brief

BMW’s main goal for the campaign was to gain local and international media coverage. Once we had a newsworthy story we just needed to work out the best way to get it out there in a short amount of time. Prior to launching, we identified potential media allies who we knew would likely be covering April Fool’s day and who would invest the resources required to help us get the public’s attention. We then utilised the time difference to seed the story internationally and get it on morning news shows, websites and newspapers in USA and the UK.


It worked. Tianna Marsh risked looking like a fool and showed up at the dealership to redeem the coupon. She was rewarded with a brand new BMW (with five years free insurance), after handing over her keys to her old Nissan. Hidden news cameras were there to capture the whole thing, and the footage quickly spread around the internet gaining $20,403,170 dollars worth of earned media with stories on top news shows, Newspapers and websites - including Good Morning America, The Today Show, CBS News, Huffington Post, Time magazine. The Guardian, BBC News, New York post, The Independent and the UK Telegraph. Videos of the stunt have been viewed by over 5,800,000 people. And with just one tiny newspaper ad we reached millions of people worldwide with 284,125,194 million impressions.


The ad ran as a coupon on the front page of the morning newspaper. In the dealership, we set the scene so it looked just like a normal day. Then once the winner had handed over the coupon, confetti flew, and a crowd came out of hiding. We teamed up with one of NZ’s top news shows who came along to film the whole thing. The story revealed to New Zealand that the ad wasn’t an April Fools’ prank after all. Distribution of the press release, image and a link to the ad was timed to coincide with April Fool’s Day morning in the US and USA in particular. The update was distributed via social media and a comprehensive media distribution list to national and international news media. We then monitored the coverage that started came through which quickly showed just how far the campaign was reaching globally.

The Situation

BMW have one of the longest corporate histories of April foolery in the world. In 2015 BMW New Zealand wanted to build on this history and gain relevance with a younger audience by creating an April Fools’ stunt. We needed to use PR to get the stunt seen by as many people as possible in a very short time frame, because April Fools’ stunts are only relevant for one day - April Fools’ day.

The Strategy

For this campaign BMW was going beyond its usual reach, doing something for the people and the brand. They wanted to drive likeability beyond their core target, reinforce the positivity of the BMW brand with existing drivers as well as driving engagement with the brand to the general public as a whole. The main target group they wanted to reach with this stunt was a younger audience to get their engagement for the future; this was the perfect way to target these people. We knew we had to do something completely different to stand out amongst the tide of branded April Fools’ day stunts and get picked up the media. So our strategy was to do the opposite of everyone else. Instead of pretending to do something unbelievable. We actually did something unbelievable.


Name Company Position
Damon Stapleton DDB Group New Zealand Chief Creative Officer
Shane Bradnick DDB Group New Zealand Executive Creative Director
James Conner DDB Group New Zealand Art Director
Christie Cooper DDB Group New Zealand Copywriter
Paula Brown DDB Group New Zealand Account Director
Elizabeth Beatty DDB Group New Zealand Managing Partner
Kathy Gieck Mango/DDB Group New Zealand General Manager
Katie Walton Mango/DDB Group New Zealand Group Account Director
Kate Carter Mango/DDB Group New Zealand Head of Media Relations
Andy Robbiliard DDB Group New Zealand Print Producer
Jamie Barrett DDB Group New Zealand Planner
James Anderson Two Heads Director
Sonya Berrigan BMW New Zealand Marketing Manager
Joanne McDonald BMW New Zealand Marketing Communications Manager
Edward Finn BMW New Zealand Corporate Communications Manager