Fake news used to be cute but these days it’s hard enough to keep track of what’s real and what isn’t real. Updated: It's not 2021 anymore, but it's still a big no from us for April Fools' Day stunts.
PR stunts have always been a part of the landscape, and many of us have stories about the ones landed well, but there are many, many more that fall flat. Chief among them are April Fools’ Day stunts. This year, it’s “Volts”wagen.
At a time when conspiracy theories abound, do you really want your audience to struggle to know if your marketing message is real?
We’re putting a stake in the ground - no more April Fools’ stunts. Here’s why:
Risk Versus Reward. Think about the business value and ROI. Is taking part in April Fools’ Day right for your brand and audience? Will the ROI outweigh the potential crisis that forces you to pull together emergency resources to clean up a PR mess if your stunt backfires?
Case in point -- the Volkswagen stunt that unfolded this week - fooling even the AP. Some on our team thought it was a genius move -- doubling down on electric vehicles with a clever twist on your iconic brand. It was soon revealed as a “pre” April Fools’ Day joke and Twitter imploded, telling the automaker, there’s no such thing as “pre” April Fools! And this morning, the headline on CNN tells the story. The company is under fire for potentially misleading investors with the stunt.
Read the Room. It’s 2021 and we’re exhausted. Repeated assaults on news integrity over the past few years, so much so that ‘alternative facts’ and ‘fake news’ have become a part of the lexicon, have worn us out. Regardless of your political stance, we can all agree that journalism -- the fourth estate -- is critical to our functioning democracy, and that conspiracy theories only serve to further divide. Don’t make us speculate.