The disappearing Fool? Missed chances on a silly day

(sigh)

Well another year another April Fool’s. In a day of mass communications it was never likely that people would get away with something as blatant as the BBC’s classic ‘Spaghetti Harvest’ jape, but the trad press can’t help but trawl out some silliness – sometimes with the help of brands, other times solo. So this year there are flying penguins, jokes about Sarko’s height and the somewhat lame claim that new BMWs will come with an anti dog urine device.

The latter appeals to have been sold in to the London Metro as an exclusive, judging by the fact that the Metro brand is also mentioned in much other coverage of the stunt. When I saw it this morning, it seemed a bit of a mediocre effort – even the photography was very low resolution like it had been Photoshopped from random web JPEGs. More importantly though it had no real overriding message except ‘BMW can be a bit high tech’ and was so obviously a prank it is hard to see what real impact it had. This is the worst side of old-style consumer PR: tactics that generate a tonne of pointless coverage with little to tie it all to a brand other than a namecheck.

Why not integrate with the web and do something almost believable enough to cause a buzz before revealing the joke? Like if you were Gillette point hacks in the direction of ‘it could be real’ footage of Bigfoot on Youtube (not the best idea but it has been a long day). Get people thinking about your brand in a fun, new way then reveal the joke without making them feel stupid.

It looked like only the BBC understood the power of digital integration with it’s brilliant (and more believable than most) flying penguins gag. One bright spot on an otherwise dull day of scattergun, obvious PR and prejudicial prankage. Otherwise, jokes like these are just depressing.

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