Marketer's Brief: Lexus plans an April Fool's joke ad for 'Saturday Night Live'

Published on .

Welcome to the latest edition of Marketer's Brief, a quick take on marketing news, moves and trends from Ad Age's reporters and editors. Send tips/suggestions to [email protected]

Lexus joined with 23andMe for a genetics-themed April Fool's Day ad.
Lexus joined with 23andMe for a genetics-themed April Fool's Day ad. Credit: Lexus/23andMe

It's almost that time of the year, April Fool's Day, that once harmless holiday when you would try to pull one over on your neighbor, friend or co-worker. Until brands got involved and ruined it. OK, that's a bit harsh. Maybe. But you'll have to excuse us for being a bit jaded. We get so many April Fool's Day brand pitches about made-up products and fake campaigns that it's become a bit of a cliche. Almost every time, it's some low-budget, fake ad that is only shown on digital without much paid support in hopes of luring free media coverage.

A car your DNA likes

Which brings us to Lexus, which is actually putting some serious media money behind its prank. The automaker is leaning into the genetic trend with a fake partnership with 23andMe for a pretend program that allows buyers to customize vehicles based on their DNA. But instead of stopping with a digital video (below), Lexus cut a 30-second spot that it says will air on TV during "Saturday Night Live" this weekend. The commercial by Lexus agency Team One will air again on Sunday on Comedy Central. So, you got us Lexus: We are covering your fake ad because the money you are putting behind it is very real. Unless this is a trick.

More fake news

While we are in a giving mood, here's some more April Fool's Day brand nonsense:

Buffalo-based storage company Life Storage Inc. is introducing Howie, an AI-powered "smart storage smart bot" that will serve as an on-demand valet and moving companion, accessible via mobile app. Howie can help consumers with all their boxing, moving and storage needs. It may be a joke, but with many brands already using bots and AI-technology advancements on the horizon, is Howie really that far away?

Here's another one that could actually make sense in real life. In a video by its agency RPA, Honda began using its social channels today to plug a fictional "Honda Sixth Sense" app that purports to use radar and sensors to help guide people whose heads are buried in their mobile phones. Here's the feature that we really like, and wish was available in real life: a "personal avoidance system" allows users to avoid selected contacts in their phone's address book by automatically rerouting them if that person is nearby.

And, in real news …

Bustle Digital Group is acquiring the Zoe Report, the lifestyle site founded nine years ago by celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe, effective April 1. Zoe will continue as editor-at-large of the site, which counts some 2 million email subscribers. Founded in 2013, Bustle has made a name for itself as a media destination for women. The company also owns Romper and Elite Daily.

Online 'viewability' matters for offline shopping too

Everybody assumes ads you get a good look at work better than those you don't, but a new study by Placed and Moat helps quantify the difference—and again suggest that even "non-viewable" ads have some value. The research, commissioned by Omnicom shopper-marketing agency Integer, found ad impressions that meet the Media Rating Council "viewability" standard of at least half the ad in view for 1 second (2 seconds for video) drive people into stores 20.4 percent of the time. That's a 53 percent higher rate than for ads that didn't meet the standard. Of course, around 13 percent of the folks who saw ads but not enough of the ads or for long enough to meet the viewability standard still went into the stores. Assuming the advertiser had a deal not to pay for non-viewable ads, those eyeballs came for free, and so did the feet attached to them. Placed says it's not authorized to disclose which brands were involved in the study.

Live from New York

The New York International Auto Show opens to the public on Friday, but typically brands try to to make their biggest media splash with fancy promotional events at the press days before the show. This year they run two days starting Wednesday. Toyota is tacing a different approach for its 2019 Yaris sedan, which will first be shown during the public portion of the event as part of a reveal hosted by ESPN personalities Herculez Gomez and Antonietta Collins. The event was coordinated by Joe Agency.

Engergizer Bunny and Peeps breed pink bunnies

Credit: Engergizer

It was maybe inevitable that the bunnies got together. In a holiday marketing stunt, the Energizer Bunny has become the official celebrity creative director for the Peeps brand in time for Easter. The natural end result of this bunny pairing is that Just Born Quality Confections, maker of Peeps, is selling a new version of its iconic marshmallow easter-basket stuffer that looks a lot like Energizer's trademark—pink and with sunglasses.

Would You Buy This?

Peep This Collab.
Peep This Collab. Credit: The Collective Brewing Project

But wait, there's more Peeps news. A craft brewer in Texas is giving Peeps beer a try for Easter. (gross!) "Peep This Collab" is made from Peeps, vanilla and butterfly pea flower, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Number of the Week

6,372: The number of U.S. breweries in operation last year, including 3,812 microbreweries, 2,252 brewpubs, 202 regional craft breweries and 106 large or otherwise non-craft brewers, according to new data from the Brewers Association, which reps craft brewers.

Tweet of Week


It's spring break. Everyone is at the beach, or drinking Peeps beer, so no exec moves to report this week.

Contributing: E.J. Schultz, Adrianne Pasquarelli, Jack Neff

Most Popular