5 years of April Fools’ shen-annie-gans
The Annie’s team is serious about their not-so-serious April Fools’ Day pranks.
The brand has been sharing April Fools’ shen-annie-gans with fans for five years.
“We really just like to have as much fun as humanly possible, and April Fools’ Day grants every bunny permission to have a good laugh,” says Karen Fries, social media manager at Annie’s, based in Berkeley, California. “We see it as an official holiday, really. More than that, we want to celebrate with our fans who truly appreciate the quirks and weirdness of our brand. We’re encouraged each day to embrace the weird – and we certainly do.”
Karen talks more about the fun culture at Annie’s that encourages April Fools’ Day pranks, in this audio clip.
Last year’s prank celebrated the greatness of grandmas.
“Grannie’s Well-Aged Cheddar Mac and Cheese” was advertised on Annie’s Facebook page as a “cheek-pinchingly good” meal made with Grandma’s love and added Vitamin D extracted from Florida sunshine.
So is there an official Annie’s prank process?
Not really, Karen says. It typically involves a bunch of Annie’s marketing communications members brainstorming ideas and drawing from consumer questions.
“We’re inspired by misconceptions of the brand, and obviously things that are timely and buzzworthy in the news,” she adds.
“We have someone on our Sales team, Ed Madden, who could definitely be deemed the office prankster at Annie’s,” she says. “He likes to send out hilarious Photoshopped photos of himself as a bunny, which always prompts a good laugh. He’s also a dog whisperer on the side (little known fact). Outside of Ed, our MarCom team does a great job inspiring annual pranks. We are the bunnies behind each April Fools’ joke, after all.”
Speaking of behinds, in 2015 Annie’s joke was so good that the brand decided to take its announcement of a faux product – originally called “Fannie’s Bunny Butts in Butter Sauce” – and turn it into an actual product offering called “Annie’s Bunny Tails with Butter & Parmesan macaroni and cheese.”
Annie’s had posted on Facebook its “plans” to introduce a macaroni and cheese product with pasta in the shape of the backside of its mascot and “rabbit of approval” Bernie the Bunny – cottontail and all.
“Introducing our cheekiest mac and cheese yet!” Annie’s exclaimed.
The package was filled with bunny backside puns such as: “Yum to the Last Bum!” … “Nothing Butt Goodness.” … This box is for the hard core Bernie “fan-nies”!
Annie’s fans fell hard for the joke.
In one day, Annie’s Facebook page received more than 10,000 likes for the fake product, and nearly 800 people left messages.
“There was no intention to have it as a real product,” says Christina McCalla, brand manager for Annie’s. “But people just loved it. Their reaction was ‘Is this real? Please make it real.’ We couldn’t say no.”
The next day – with support from Annie’s leadership team – Annie’s announced: “It started off as a joke. But our fans were 100 percent serious. You asked for it, we’re making it happen – no butts about it. Coming soon to a store near you!”
Watch a video of the Bunny Tails announcement, here.
Let’s face it: The Annie’s team is really serious about its relationship with loyal fan-nies.
“Our fans have always guided us,” says Christina. “In this case with the enthusiasm pouring in, we thought, ‘Let’s go for it!’ There wasn’t a whole lot of debate. We worked fast to make it happen, keeping our fans updated along the way, and about four months later we were ready to ship.”
Other pranks that didn’t make it to the grocery aisle include:
Man-nies Mac & Cheese in 2013, followed by a bunny infestation in 2014.
For 2107, Annie’s enhanced one of its best-selling products by creating a life-sized Cheddar Bunny.
Karen says, “We love our fans, so we’re really just giving them more of us to love back.”
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