April Fools’ may be done and dusted for another year but even a week after the event, we’re still hearing about the fallout.
With a vested interest in all things publicity and PR, we were keeping an eye out for the best and worst stunts of the day and, what a surprise, there were plenty!
Some of those stunts were hitting the headlines – for all the wrong reasons.
As a PR agency, we’re always looking for the next big creative idea for our clients and nobody can deny that April Fools’ Day can provide a perfect opportunity to generate some press coverage. But believe it or not, not all publicity is a good thing.
Google managed to make a few enemies this April Fools’ with its now infamous ‘micdrop’ email prank by incorporating a new send button into users’ email, placed right next to the original send button.
When users sent an email using the new button, the respondent received a gif of a minion character dropping a microphone, which was in bad taste for professionals sending important emails. It also effectively ended the conversation and muted any replies to the thread.
As a headline-grabbing stunt it definitely worked – generating plenty of publicity for Gmail. In fact, it was the story of the day on most news sites. The downside however was the content of the coverage – with many Gmail customers complaining the prank had caused them to lose contracts and even jobs!
At the end of the day, it would be interesting to see whether Google heralded the stunt a success or a failure – it certainly achieved mass exposure, but at what cost?
So what can we learn from this particular prank?
Don’t lose sight of what’s important – in this case, customers. Avoid stunts or pranks that could negatively impact your customers – this goes against the whole objective of any PR activity, to generate news coverage which builds brand awareness and drives sales.
Be creative. One of our favourite stunts to emerge so far this year was Jessica Lownde’s fake relationship with “sugar daddy” Jon Lovitz.
Marketed as an early April Fool’s prank, actress and singer, Jessica, staged a perfect social media campaign, creating buzz on the lead up to the release of her new music video and song, ‘Déjà vu (Remix)’.
By posting plenty of Instagram and Twitter teasers about her supposed new relationship with Jon, her creativity clearly paid off – her video got over half a million views on YouTube.
In this instance her timing was key – launching the campaign before April Fool’s made it more believable and many people (including us!) fell for it – hook, line and sinker. A prank pulled on April Fool’s Day itself is more expected, so may not be as successful.
Ultimately, publicity stunts (or cleverly marketed April Fools’ pranks) can be extremely beneficial when you want to create some buzz and interest in your brand, as long as you have weighed up the pros and cons of the campaign and are certain any mistakes made won’t be too costly.
And, as demonstrated by Google, businesses should never compromise their service or integrity for column inches – unless you want your customers to lose faith in your products and the service you provide.