Why I Loathe April Fools’ Jokes
There are few things that make me cringe more than seeing hoax after hoax pop up on Twitter on the first day of the fourth month of each year. Sure, some are creative. But ZERO are original. Because they can’t be. You are committing a primary offense when you gather a group of content creators into a room and have them brainstorm possible April Fools’ Day jokes to launch into the world. April Fools’ hoaxes are to social media what Yo Mama jokes are to comedy. They are hack.
And I’m not the only one that’s exhausted by the super glossy, obviously false realities that are promoted heavily on this day. The trite-ocity overwhelms us all. Here is a small collection of my favorite exasperated tweets about brand attempts at April Fools’:
— Jenna Guillaume (@JennaGuillaume) March 31, 2015
Can’t wait to see all of the #RealTimeLOLZ churned out by brands today.
^ That was a joke. #AprilFools
— Marion Brewer (@marionbrew) April 1, 2015
Advanced shout to all that quality April fool brand engagement content. Can’t wait to feel closer to your brand.
— caston cook (@cogmeat) March 31, 2015
But this year, the year of fake news, I’m expecting April Fools’ jokes to chafe me especially badly. With plenty of bullshit to parse, who needs this trumped up holiday?
Fair points from the Sunday Times. I say it’s time for the media to ignore April Fools. Few get it right now anyway. pic.twitter.com/Ga6EgRt88s
— Nick Metcalfe (@Nick_Metcalfe) March 28, 2017
So, let me show you a few so-called well-executed April Fools’ jokes from this year to illustrate my point and maybe even convince you to relax and skip the hoaxes from here on out…
Are you impressed with these? These all look like money being thrown out of windows into paper shredders to me. The desperation to be relevant is palpable and the clinging to existing trends and tropes is a bummer. And, I’m not even laughing. But what was the stated goal? It’s as if the creative teams wished they had different clients to create content for so they took the one day where it’s possible to flip the script and created a slew of hollow content that took a ton of time and effort to produce. It’s like they are creating this content for other creatives to applaud them for and not for the target audience of the brand they work for.
And yet, you probably won’t be surprised that when I put “April Fools’ jokes social media” into Google, countless articles popped up to tell me how to make my hoax a giant hit in a few easy steps! Because making noise is good enough, right? No, that’s not right. Being good is good. Being corny is not good.
Here are my instructions for how to achieve success on April 1st:
- Don’t jump on this broken down bandwagon.
- Don’t post your pea-brained hoax.
- Don’t even post it if someone describes it as brilliant.
- Sit it out (and shut up) on April Fools’ Day.
- Let those other brands misrepresent (or even embarrass) themselves.
- Use April 1st to dedicate all of your witty brain juices to coming up with some amazing piece of content that you’ll release on a Tuesday in May or a Thursday in July.
It’s too late for Burger King, Lucid Mattress, Honda and countless others – but maybe next year they’ll heed my warning. Because how does even the most finely-tuned, hilarious April Fools’ joke translate into a better understanding of a brand, create good feelings about what that brand offers the world or convince followers of your humanness? It doesn’t. Especially if you’re not even trying to be funny any other day of the year.
And to make it all worse, a hoax on this day is anything but unexpected now. The most you can hope for is to be archived on the internet for other social media pros to glance at idly between tasks (or for me to dig up later to research this article), or maybe help give a young writer the opportunity to make a few dollars cobbling together a listicle for some online site. I’m happy for that writer but I’m sad for you when you realize a line and a screenshot will not propel your brand to success in any kind of tangible way.
So can I just beg you to make really good content every day? That’s the opportunity of digital. Participate in overwrought, tired trends at your own peril. Instead, create something worth buzzing about on a day that isn’t some desperately linked to a hackneyed holiday. If you just can’t bear to abstain completely, may I suggest playing an old-fashioned prank on your mom? If you capture it for posterity, I won’t admonish you. Just don’t post about it on the internet. Share a giggle and keep it moving.
And to prove that I’m not just a hater, I am going to dedicate April 1, 2017 to pure enjoyment of cool media and events free of Fools’ Day gimmicks.
- catching up on Ryan Murphy’s show Feud.
- binge listening the new podcast S-Town.
- attending How Sweet It Was’ deadstock vintage lingerie party.
- reading the latest issue of CR Fashion Book.
Editor’s Note – Yes, BRINK has participated in April Fools pranks in the past. We also made a Harlem Shake video once, AKA “rock bottom”. What can we say? We’re a complex organism. An honest, complex organism.