April Fools’ Day: A chance for positive PR or ‘fake news’ fatigue?
The concept of the April Fools’ prank is (feels like) as old as time. Popular since the 19th century, the custom of a day for playing harmless pranks is relatively common around the world.
According to Wikipedia, the practice of April Fools’ pranks is controversial. On the one hand, it is said to be good for one’s health by association with the benefits of laughter. Certainly, the lists compiled annually with the best examples of the year’s hoaxes would indicate that we all enjoy a bit of clever jesting.
On the other, are brands losing perspective? Has April Fools’ become just yet another day to try to get the # trending on Twitter, without considering the campaign; the brand values; what customer-centricity really means?
“April 1. This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four.”Mark Twain
In today’s era of ‘fake news’ I wonder if brand-led April Fools’ has run its course. If 1st April is the only day of the year that a brand who values humour feels able to express it, that’s a poor reflection on what we – as consumers – now want to consume (more on FUD marketing on my next blog…) If it’s the only day of the year that brands who have an, at best, loose connection to prankishness, why join in and risk losing the respect of your customers?
At the end of the day, it’s only a bit of fun. But when fun equals jumping on a bandwagon that doesn’t marry to what really matters to your brand, think twice. And – by the way – this is the advice we give to all our clients (none of whom April Fools pranked (that we were involved in, I might add!)) If it’s not core to your campaign, think twice.
For the record, my favourite April Fools’ prank ever is The Guardian’s San Seriffe. Now that was proper fake news!