April Fool’s Day Shouldn’t Yield Foolish Consumer Engagement

I’ve never noticed before now, but many companies and brands seem to always have large announcements or feature launches on April 1st. They seem to be around products/new offers that are a bit peculiar at first glance, but understandable given the fast-paced, constantly changing, dynamic of today’s business world. The obvious first question is why? Why April 1st? The answer wasn’t too hard to find.

By April 1, the first half of the fiscal year is over, and many companies are launching their newest initiatives to carry their brand to economic prosperity before the last day of September. The wilder ideas are just a tell-tale sign that a brand is desperately trying to boost revenue before their stock drops off a cliff.

Do you believe any portion of what I’ve just written, or have I just cast a far-too-large stone from within my glass house? Happy April Fool’s Day everyone, a day where your intelligence will be insulted from every angle andyou don’t really know what to believe, or as my insightful friend posted on Facebook, “Today must be a nightmare for anyone who legitimately has to give ANY sort of bad news.” But from a brand’s perspective, they see an opportunity – one that not all brands are necessarily ready for.

Consumers like interacting with brands they support, but the notion of a gag just for April Fool’s is starting to feel a bit forced. Some ideas feel like they were picked-up off the cutting room floor and deemed, ‘good enough.’ But on a day where many brands hope to stand-out for creative direction and execution, ‘good enough’ isn’t cutting it anymore.

Today, AdWeek published a list of its “Best of the Brand Hoaxes,” and there are some quality April Fool’s marketing pushes among them. That should be the biggest message of this post: quality. If your brand isn’t producing an April Fool’s gag that is memorable, stop.

There is no particular time for good consumer engagement, because it is constant. On the other hand, there is constantly never a time for bad engagement. It is because of these reasons that a brand shouldn’t rush to push-out some haphazard visual to consumers because of April Fool’s Day.

One of my favorite gags today was from Urban Outfitters. I liked it for a number of reasons. First off, the entire concept is so out there you know it hasto be a joke. The clothing they’re advertising isn’t even functional. Beyond humor, the video itself was well shot with a cool soundtrack. Lastly, it was under a minute! You don’t get consumers attention for very long, so the brevity of the video works.

A prank that didn’t resonate as well with me was from The Guardian. I really liked the premise, but there were some aspects that I would change. The video quality wasn’t as nice as I would have liked, but I understand the not wanting to spend a lot of money on production for a fake product. Besides that, the tone of the narrator throughout was quite mono. Lastly, the video was almost three-and-a-half minutes long. That is an eternity for something that should be light and entertaining.

My observation? The good will rise, the bad will crash and burn. You don’t need to prove that your brand has a sense of humor; one day won’t change your image completely. Next year, do your brand a favor and  step back and make sure that it is known that your brand will engage consumers as they always have and not be made a fool of on April Fool’s Day.

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