Diary: Little expense spared for agencies to make April Fools of staffers

Bah! April Fool's Day: an opportunity for the office Colin Hunts to create rib-tickling mayhem.

The first side-splittingly funny bit of tomfoolery came from the below-the-line outfit TBWA\ GGT. The agency thought it would be hilarious to pretend it had won £40-million worth of business from the "Atlantic Tunnel" to promote a high-speed passenger rail link beneath the Atlantic Ocean.

The management, evidently with far too much time on its hands, constructed a sophisticated website at www.atlantictunnel.com and set up a client phone line.

They told staff that, although the agency had been appointed in November 2003, only a few members of staff had known about it and had been under a strict confidentiality agreement.

The second bunch of pranksters were down at Viacom Outdoor. Hot on the heels of winning the outdoor contracts for GNER and Chiltern Railways, an e-mail went round asking anyone who travelled to work on those lines to support an initiative called briefcase media.

What this meant for lucky staff was carrying an illuminated briefcase with advertising messages on.

One particularly eager member of the production team forwarded it to a supplier, which sent back a list of questions such as: are the cases plastic or leather? Does the material need to be fire-rated? And could he volunteer for the trial?

Last, but not least, and perhaps the best of the bunch, which clearly speaks volumes about the quality of the other efforts, was from London's favourite freesheet newspaper Metro. The paper carried a story that it was planning to launch a broadsheet version in an attempt to "differentiate" it from The Independent and The Times, which have recently published versions in the more commuter-friendly tabloid size as well.


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