T-Mobile urges gratitude for ‘helpers’ on April Fools’ Day

Linda J. Dodson


  • T-Mobile is urging people to show their gratitude for “the helpers of the world” instead of pulling pranks on April Fools’ Day in a giving campaign during the coronavirus pandemic. The wireless carrier will donate as much as $500,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America COVID-19 Relief Fund with two mobile-based fundraising efforts, per an announcement.
  • T-Mobile from April 1 to April 7 will donate $1 every time a Twitter user tweets a story expressing gratitude for any kind of helper — a doctor, nurse or other aid worker — along with the hashtag #GiveThanksNotPranks and the @TMobile account handle. The company will donate as much as $200,000 to the pandemic relief fund that provides services and childcare support to first responders and healthcare workers, along with meals to families in need.
  • T-Mobile also is urging people to donate $5 to the fund by texting the word “THANKS” to 50555 throughout April as many as 16 times. The company will match those donations up to $300,000. As part of its charitable efforts during the pandemic, T-Mobile last month gave $700,000 to Feeding America and the T-Mobile Foundation gave $100,000 to COVID-19 Response Fund hosted by the Seattle Foundation, per its announcement.


T-Mobile’s #GiveThanksNotPranks campaign is a departure from its previous lighthearted April Fools’ Day stunts as the coronavirus pandemic leads mobile marketers to reevaluate and rework their advertising to match the public mood. In the past, T-Mobile ran humorous campaigns like its “Binge On Up” commercial that showed people wearing a fake headset attached to a flexible selfie stick, or its garish full-body onesie that was billed as the first “full-body wearable” device. This year’s campaign is notable not only for its more serious tone, but also its use of mobile messaging and social media for a fundraising effort. 

With several countries threatening jailtime for making April Fools’ jokes about the coronavirus, the annual occasion has taken a darker turn this year. The gloomy public mood also has led many companies to change or scrub their attention-grabbing efforts. Google, known for its highly elaborate April Fools’ pranks, this year decided to cancel all such stunts, CMO Lorraine Twohill announced in an internal memo cited by Business Insider. Google’s past April Fools’ pranks have included changing Google Maps into a game of “Where’s Waldo” and adding a “mic drop” button to Gmail, among other pranks.

T-Mobile and Google are among the brands that have revamped their advertising and boosted charitable giving during the pandemic. Cottonelle, the toilet paper brand marketed by Kimberly-Clark, this week launched a social media campaign to urge people to avoid hoarding its products as shoppers panic-buy necessities at grocery stores and drugstores. The Giant Company, which runs the Giant and Martin’s supermarket chains, last week launched a social media campaign called #MoreForAll that urges shoppers to curb stockpiling. Backpack brand JanSport last week started a hashtag challenge on viral video app TikTok while pledging to donate backpacks to a nonprofit that helps people struggling with hunger and poverty.

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