April Fools; the good, the ‘It should be real’ and the downright ugly

I’m not sure there is any other day in the year when individuals and brands can tell audacious lies to their millions of followers and get away with it. Or do they?


Enter April Fools Day

The first recorded April Fools was way back when in 1698 when people were sent to “the tower ditch to see the lions washed”, spoiler- there were no lions and it was a ‘fools errand’. Yet this prank was continued for well over a century, with people still going to the tower every April 1st.

Obviously without the online capabilities that we have today, there was never an easy way to check if this was a hoax or not, finally something to rejoice about with technology.

With campaigns able to make an impact almost instantaneously now, thanks to the world wide web, April Fools Day looks like it is one of the most creative days of any company’s calendar. With big brands using the day to let their personalities shine through and not be constrained by detail such as ‘focusing the campaign to the right demographic’ the pranks are big and bold and beautiful!

Emoji number plates, why not?

Carlsberg drone…. Ummm, yes please!

Tinder making a verification feature which means men can not lie about their height… why is this not real?!Whoever came up with this little gem really needs to contact NASA, get some technology and make it happen.

And don’t scoff at this; a simple April Fools prank by Google inspired John Hanke, the Chief Exec of a software development company, to create the Pokemon Go game. Causing the market value of Nintendo to increase by $9 Billion.

In 2014 Google created a “game” in which users looked on Google Maps for Pokémon a la “I Spy” or “Where’s Waldo.” The Pokémon simply appeared as icons on the classic map screen, the same way a restaurant or a hotel does. There was no actual interaction between user and character. 

Hanke teamed up with Niantic Labs and the rest is firmly in the history of 2016 when Pokemon Go swept the globe. This is definitely how you do April Fools.

At the opposite end of the scale is when harmless pranks and thoughtless actions can turn the world against the brand. United in their contempt for the joke can this have a long lasting and damaging effect on that brand? Big brands have fortunately avoided any major backlash but when individuals in a higher social standing go wrong, what are the repercussions?

Housewives of Beverly Hills star Lisa Rinna pretended she was bald and used wigs the result; thousands of people condemning her for being attention seeking and having no regard for women who may have lost their hair through medical conditions. Sam Smith who is openly gay pretended to be straight leading to swarms of fans filling his social media feed with disappointment and disapproval, asking how someone with his high social profile could joke about something that people often struggle with when having to come out.

Justin Bieber is currently at the forefront of people’s minds for no-no’s; he wasn’t the first to do it and I am sure that he wont be the last with the not-so-original “We’re pregnant” social media post.

The apparent abhorrent lack of thoughtfulness put into this April Fools resonated globally, ”The Beliebers” (more than likely women in their 20’s by now) and their mothers came together to express their frustration that people are still using this as a public joke, despite the hundreds of thousand, even millions of women that are unable to conceive. The fact that two people came together to joke about forming a life when so many people are unable to do so caused waves globally. Did it damage his brand… potentially. But in a year, will it matter? Probably not.

Will we still remember Pokemon Go...absolutely.

I love April Fools Day, mainly because I am quite gullible and I really would like to believe that pink avocados are real and I really do wish that Tinder get the height verification tool (not that I’m on Tinder, but you know….. looking out for the other tall girls!) but mainly I love how we get to see huge brands let loose and throw away the rule book for that one fabulous day.

Celebrities on the other hand- keep it low key. Or just stay off social media, leave it to the pros!


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