April Fools Day Campaign 2020
Opinion

JOKES OVER: Should You Cancel Your April Fools Day Campaigns?

This could amount to being a very, very short blog post.

Because in short, if you’re planning a 2020 April Fools Day campaign, don’t.

In fear of sounding like yet-another-PR, these truly are unprecedented times and whilst April Fools Day campaigns may have worked well for your brand in the past, they almost certainly won’t this year. To be honest, I doubt we’ll even see the usual antics from the newspapers and the really big companies that we’re used to.

There’s just no time for jokes right now.

Why You Should Cancel Your April Fools Day Campaigns

Angelica Malin from About Time Magazine hosted a really great PR webinar a few days ago (one that I haven’t actually shut up about since). When asked what she thinks about April Fools led content. “Isn’t April Fools cancelled now?” she says, and I couldn’t agree more. As mentioned above, now is not the time for April Fools Day PR campaigns (not sure they were ever that effective anyway).

Whilst we all need a little escapism right now, it’s a really grave time and I think ignoring that completely just isn’t appropriate.

There are several reasons as to why you should toss your April Fools Day campaigns on the backburner this year, including:

  • It’s irrelevant – nobody will be celebrating this year
  • They’re becoming less and less popular anyway
  • The media will be less inclined to cover these types of stories
  • You risk your brand looking insensitive or not tuned in to the current climate
Animal-jokes-funny-sheep.jpg
Oh to be a sheep without a clue what’s going on right now, ey?

Here’s those points in more detail…

April Fools Day Is Pretty Irrelevant Right Now

In case you didn’t know, we’re currently gripped by a global pandemic – probably the worst of our generation, not least mine.

Despite the craving for normality and escapism, it wouldn’t feel right celebrating April Fools Day this year. I mean, this is just a prediction of mine but I feel as though any jokes made this year would just feel in bad taste. While we still want to hear the positive news, having a widespread day of jokes and tomfoolery just feels a little tone-deaf right now.

Is it worth risking putting your brand in those unchartered waters for the sake of a little media attention? Remember you could always be on the receiving end of backlash too if you do come across unsavory. Despite what many think, not all publicity is good publicity.

Google has already cancelled their annual stunt, and they won’t be the only brand to do so.

These Campaigns Are Becoming Less Effective

My second point is one that is not necessarily indicative of our current situation.

April Fools Day campaigns have been something that I’ve always been interested in, largely because I think they’re so hard to pull off effectively. Unless you have a really creative idea, it probably won’t be well received.

I’ve seen so many campaigns that, putting it bluntly, have been a waste of budget. As if your brand cant adapt and fit right into the whole April Fools Day theme, then it’s a waste of time trying to market with it this year.

So if you were second-guessing your campaigns anyway, now is definitely time to disregard them altogether. Not only are they likely to be poorly received whilst we’re in such uncertain times, but they’re becoming less and less efficacious anyway.

It’ll Be Hard To Pitch

Okay, so while there’s been plenty of call-outs for happy, positive news stories at the moment, I’m also calling it that there won’t be many journalists happy to receive a campaign about April Fools Day this year.

Audiences just won’t be receptive to it, and if your news story can’t capture the attention of the general population, then it’s highly unlikely that any news outlet will cover it.

When thinking of campaigns for your brand, something always worth doing is testing out an angle on your friends or family to see if they would find it interesting. Throw a potential headline at them, and ask them if they’d be interested enough to read a full article. If it’s a no, then a journalist is probably going to look at your campaign with the same opinion.

Try asking your friends and family how many of them would fancy reading a number of April Fools Day stories this year.

You Risk Damaging Your Reputation

The worst thing to come from a campaign, undoubtedly, is when it does more harm than good.

Fast-fashion brand ‘I Saw It First’ experienced this only a few days ago when they were slammed for running a promotion where their first 1000 customers would receive a bottle of hand sanitizer with their order. They also chose to run a social media campaign at the same time, encouraging participants to use the hashtag #ISawItFirst. You can imagine what happened next. Instead of masking the issue, they amplified it. Many saw the opportunity to leverage the hashtag and express their disdain for the brand. #ISawItFirst ended up being one of Twitter’s top trends that day, but for all the wrong reasons.

So could we see this happen for other brands this April Fools Day, if they do decide to go ahead with their planned campaigns? I wouldn’t doubt it.

People have so much time on their hands right now that if your brand makes an error, it’s almost certain that there’ll be people who’ll voice their opinions on social media. What more, the population is generally feeling quite irritated and vulnerable at the moment. We’re all operating on shorter fuses. If you come across insensitive or disagreeable, it could end up doing worse things for your brand than radio silence would have.

Don’t Just Take My Word For It…

But this, as always, is just one persons opinion: mine. I don’t expect everyone will agree with me, and they’re well within their right as there are multiple different reasons as to why April Fools Day campaigns might just work. For me, they dont outweigh the negative repercussions, but for others – they might.

I asked my Twitter followers what their thoughts were on doing April Fools Day campaigns, and as always, their answers did not disappoint:

If you have anything further you’d like to add, let me know in the comments below or on Twitter.

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