April Fools … what is out there today, and did any of the stories fool you?

Yep, it’s that time of year when the media tests the credibility of many by running spoof stories. So what have we got? Lots of course

How about a trip to the centre of the earth. Virgin have announced “Virgin Volcanic” …

Using patented carbon-carbon materials pioneered for deep space exploration, Virgin is proud to announce a revolutionary new vehicle, VVS1, which will be capable of plunging three people into the molten lava core of an active volcano.

In its first three years of operation, VVS1 will target the five most active volcanoes in the world: Etna, Stromboli, Yasur, Ambrym and Tinakula.

Sir Richard Branson will go on the first expedition along with Tom Hanks, Academy Award winning actor and star of Joe Versus the Volcano; Black Eyed Peas recording artist and science enthusiast Will.i.am; actor/producer Seth Green; and two-time Academy Award winning documentary filmmaker Barbara Kopple.

Tom Hanks said: “A window seat for a journey to the liquid core of our home planet would be a bargain at twice the price.”

The team behind Virgin Volcanic believes going to the core of the five most active volcanoes is just the first step. In future this technology can be developed as a clean, safe and fast alternative to trans- continental commercial aviation. By taking the heat from molten lava Virgin Volcanic plans to develop a totally renewable energy source to power the VVS1. It is seen as a way to literally fulfil Richard Branson’s philosophy of screwing business as usual.

So what else have we got?

  • Google is brining self-drive cars to NASCAR – http://www.google.com/racing/
  • Google maps also have an 8-bit edition … http://maps.google.com/?t=8&utm_campaign=8bit&utm_source=yt
  • There is also a Lynx Spray app that lets you spray it directly from your phone …
  • Flickr will magically transform your pictures back to the 1980s by “re-envisioned them in a glorious black and white Atkinson Dither” … http://blog.flickr.net/
  • Phones 4u have cooked up “Gnomes 4u”, The gnomes use conventional gnome accessories, such as fishing rods disguised as aerials, to work their signal-boosting magic. Wi-Fi signals can also be beamed out to your garden using the gnomes special “beard band” tech.
  • Gmail has now got GMAIL Tap into the future of productivity with Gmail Tap for Android and iOS … yep a Morse code app
  • TomTom announce that Darth Vader voice keeps kids happy in the car

The above is of course just a small example, there are many many more (if you have found a nice one, why not share and drop it into the comment.

Now, the skeptic in me does indeed wonder if anybody was actually fooled by the above. They are of course funny, but also weird enough to fool nobody … Gnomes 4U … would anybody be that daft? Perhaps a handful at most, but generally no. It is all done in good fun, but clearly the various companies have spent a bit of cash doing it, not just for fun but for profit. The motivation is obvious, they are hoping it is weird enough and also good enough to go viral and thus generate a form of advertising you simply  cannot buy.

There are also the more subtle and believable ones, for example the Guardian story about the C of E advertising for a new Archbishop of Canterbury. The on-line story is date stamped 31st March so is not an obvious one (filed on-line like that so it appears in the next print edition on 1st April).

As for the corporate spoofs, who is the real fool and has been successfully conned? Me perhaps, because even with my “No Advertising” stance, here I am running advertisements for free for a collection of well-known brand names.

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