CK Insights

April 6, 2016

Fool Me Once…Shame on Who?

Dianne Carilli

Not sure if anything you read on April 1st was true? Manager of Client Services, Dianne Carilli, discusses the overwhelming amount of April Fools’ Day brand “hoaxes.”


It’s a rainy, cold, yet somehow still humid morning. After a delayed and overcrowded commute on the 6 train, my hair is standing on end and I’m splattered with rain from everyone else’s umbrellas.


It’s only 9 a.m. and my willpower is at zero, which makes it the perfect day to arrive at work to a double chocolate birthday cake in the office kitchen – like a pot of gold at the end of my commute.


Good thing I read a news article last week declaring chocolate cake can be GOOD for breakfast! What great timing! But wait, last Friday was April 1st and at this point, I’m having a hard time distinguishing between pranks and real information.


Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t remember April Fools’ Day “jokes” being so pervasive. In the past, there may have been one or two pranks so clever they caught the attention of the news media, were shared between friends and went viral. This year, my Gmail was so full of April Fools’ Day spam, I could have deleted the entire day unopened. What could be an opportunity to do something creative and engaging, has turned into just another marketing tactic. Questionably funny or annoying in most cases, and truly confusing in others.


To give you an idea of just how overwhelming the brand “hoaxes” were this year, the Washington Post compiled a list of more than 122. Surprisingly, only 12 were related to strange new services or products for dogs and cats – like this 5-hour Energy dog food. This list doesn’t even include pranks about fake dating apps – that joke category has a separate list.


As PR professionals, we know when it comes to holiday pitching, the bar is much higher. If you don’t have a story that is interesting, unique and newsworthy enough to stand out – don’t bother pitching at all.


The same should go for April 1st pranks for marketing. If you don’t have something truly funny, unique and clever enough to make an impression and be relevant to your brand, just don’t do it. At the best, it’s not going to get noticed – and at the worst, well it could make your customers angry.


Consumers already face an overload of information on a daily basis and too many bad jokes are keeping us from the important things we need to know. For example, if it is healthy to eat cake for breakfast. In case you are wondering, that story appears to be true.

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