You’re not fooling anyone… It’s time for PR to ditch the April Fools’ junk

april foolsHumour: subjective, of course, but in most cases it’s reliant on timing, originality, delivery and relevance. Therefore, it stands to reason that if everyone repeats the same joke ad infinitum/ad nauseam, then it ceases to be funny pretty quickly.

Which brings me neatly to April Fools’ Day, which is fast becoming the most passé, tedious tradition in the PR calendar. Brand X has announced launch of service/product Y which seems implausible. Because it isn’t real!

Good work, I did not see that coming. Gotcha! ROFL. #topbants

Or, more accurately: formulaic, predictable, unfunny.

There was a time when the April Fools’ stories in the media were generally few and far between. There was a chance you could be caught off guard and fall for one, which, lest we forget, is the entire point.

No chance of that now, of course, because social media is inundated with literally tens of thousands of examples, each slightly varied from the last, but rarely any funnier.

It’s just a willy-waving competition to see which brand’s PR agency can come up with the most outlandish ideas, and if you spend more than five minutes on social media a day (naturally unavoidable when you work in the industry) then you’ll be washed away in a tidal wave of mediocre ‘humour’.

In fact, this week, Podium had to delay issuing a legitimate media release this week because the content referred to the UK’s biggest ice cream, and we were worried nobody would believe it was real.

The thing is, the mainstream media tend to print their own creations, (the less said about The Journal’s efforts the better) so there’s little chance of securing any mainstream coverage for your brand.

But not everybody did it badly. In fact, a car dealership in New Zealand scooped deserved global headlines because it ran a spoof April Fools’ joke in its local paper, offering a free car to the first person to go and claim it.

The joke being that the offer was real, and one lucky woman scooped a new BMW for actually showing up and asking for one.

It’s a great story, and a genuinely brilliant reversal. Team McMillan BMW in NZ deserves every bit of coverage it gets for being truly original in its approach. Anyone can make up far-fetched ideas – they have broken new ground here.

It’s the best example of a phenomenon I’ve just made up, and which I hope will catch on: post-AprilFoolism. The realisation that, when every brand, and PR agency on the planet, is doing the same thing, the only way to really stand out is to reverse the trend.

Of course, I now eagerly await next year, when we can look forward to a tonne of companies trying to copy Team McMillan BMW’s idea…