Prank idea: don't.
— Denny's (@DennysDiner) April 1, 2014
Another April 1 has come and gone and we’ve got a few questions. Were you fooled? Were you amused?
And most importantly for marketers who targeted the day:
Was it worth it?
Certainly, it’s one way for brands to show customers that they have a sense of humor. And you can argue that giving employees a chance to stretch their imaginations is a valuable exercise.
But the AFD playing field is getting so crowded that we wonder whether the costs are worth the benefits. The April Fool’s flood now starts in late March as anyone paying attention during the past few days knows. You can see samples from Marketing Land and our sister site Search Engine Land here, here and here and a good roundup up from AdWeek here.
Google, the reigning champion of the day, produced at least 17 hoaxes this year, down from its high of 22 in 2011, according the Wikipedia page that documents the company’s tomfoolery. According to the page, since 2008 Google has never authored fewer than 14 AFD hoaxes.
(For the record we truly do wish that Google Fiber’s Coffee for the Home wasn’t fake. It’s also an example of an effective AFD campaign, a reminder that this particular Google product is remarkable in its own right.)
But Google’s special. What about mere mortal brands?
Bonnie Bailly, marketing director for social media analytics provider Digimind, believes they can benefit by joining the fray … as long as they do funny right.
“Those pranks that rise to the surface are genuinely funny, and don’t take themselves too seriously, in effect spoofing your own company and product like Google Maps did so well this year,” Bailly wrote in an email. “Another one I admire is NY-based grocery delivery service Fresh Direct, who spoofed a new offering, eagle caught salmon, harvested in the wilds of upstate New York. This worked because it pokes fun at the tastes of its customer base, many of whom are into organic and local food, and also makes fun of its own selection.”
We’re so excited to announce the best in #fresh and #sustainable seafood: Eagle-caught #salmon http://t.co/ZL2L7dJVMO pic.twitter.com/cyekqossrO
— FreshDirect (@FreshDirect) April 1, 2014
However, there’s some evidence that some consumers are growing weary of the shenanigans, as the popular Tweet from Dennys embedded above showed with its 1,700 retweets and 1,000+ favorites. Also not definitive proof but food for thought: Digimind’s sentiment analysis of the hashtag #aprilfools showed 28% negative mentions.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in comments below or with me on Twitter @MartinBeck.