Duolingo Introduces A Fool On Ice

Hate April Fool’s Day pranks? Yeah, us too. They always seem to come from that coworker who just can’t control himself. But we’re fool enough to tip D2C Insider’s cap to a marketing gag that perfectly builds on a brand’s personality, so we give you… ”Duolingo on Ice.”

Duo, the language-learning app’s mascot, is a personality already well-known to the 88.4 million people who use the app monthly. He’s big and green. And even though he’s best known for being a jerk, especially when you’re behind on your lessons, he’s got enough personality to mesmerize crowds when he rides subways, walks down city streets or makes celebrity appearances at places like Comic Con.

So “Duolingo on Ice,” in partnership with SeatGeek, the concert ticket company, sounds plausible, like a good prank should. It’s in character, right down to Instagram footage of Duo hectoring skaters at Rockefeller Center. And the spoof goes one better by being brand-expansive, including multiple Duolingo characters like Lily, the deadpan Goth teen also created to nettle the company’s language learners.



The 90-second trailer highlights musical hits the gang will dance to, including “Spanish or Vanish” and “French or the Trench.” The film perfectly captures Duo’s brand-unfriendly passive-aggressive streak (“Four hours! No intermission!) right up to the edge of actual violence. Duo’s dark side really shines when he dances between vaguely menacing and downright dangerous. Here, skaters dressed in Duo costumes kidnap a small child, as the emcee announces, “The tears of the innocent will please the owl."

Besides running on Duolingo’s social channels, the teaser is also on SeatGeek’s site. Full musical performances are available on Spotify. As a consolation prize for anyone taken in by the trick, they can earn a free month of Super Duolingo and $20 off their next SeatGeek.

The joke follows stepped-up branding efforts on the green guy’s behalf. The Pittsburgh-based company has recently sent him down the red carpet at “Barbie” events and featured him in a seven-second fart ad during the Super Bowl.

All that falls under the heading of “delighting users,” and the strategy continues to pay off for the company. In fourth-quarter results released recently, Duolingo reported a 65% jump in average daily users and a 45% gain in revenue to $151 million. Net income rose to $12.1 million, compared to a loss of $13.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2022.

That record-setting performance is based on daily user growth in all four quarters of the year, with the fourth quarter notching record engagement levels.

“Our performance resulted from our pursuit of product excellence and innovation, the progress we’ve made building an iconic brand, and disciplined execution,” said Luis von Ahn, co-founder and chief executive officer, in the announcement.

“We’ll remain relentlessly focused on the same strategy: delighting our users, growing subscribers, teaching better and scaling our mission to more learners around the world.”

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