Konnect Daily

April Fools! Wait, was that a good idea? How your brand can decide to get in on the fun

April Fools! Wait, was that a good idea? How your brand can decide to get in on the fun

“Any publicity is good publicity.”

Who hasn’t heard this infamous phrase? These well-known words are widely-discussed and even accepted, especially around a certain annual holiday – April Fools. In a post-IHOB world, industry pros may argue today’s consumers and media are suffering stunt-exhaustion. But if your clever prank garners press, isn’t it all worth it?

After the success of a major prank by Konnect Agency’s client, Fatburger (or is it Skinnyburger?), our team of Los Angeles publicists pulled together the following guidelines for deciding whether your stunt is worth the buy-in – you just need to answer these three questions.

Question 1 – Will my story garner bad press, or just cause controversy?

Yes, there is a difference. Bad PR = Chipotle. Widespread foodborne illnesses were a big “no bueno” for the Mexican-inspired fast-casual chain.

Controversy, on the other hand, can be driven by things like slap-happy name changes, like IHOP and Fatburger. If you’re thinking of teasing a nationwide E. Coli outbreak, you might want to think again.

Question 2 – Am I offending someone?

This year, Justin Bieber received flack for a common April Fools prank – an unexpected pregnancy. Seems harmless, but many fans who’ve struggled to conceive, or recently lost a child were offended, and understandably so. Another example – Pepsi’s 2017 Kendall Jenner ad.

Causing offense is a tricky thing to avoid, especially in today’s environment. One way to skip the pain endured by brands like Pepsi: ensure your campaign is not targeting or exploiting minorities, or other groups that have suffered.

Question 3 – Is this somewhat believable?

While some brands aren’t going for believability, press pickup will likely be affected by just how likely your prank is. For example, we all could tell Auntie Anne’s wasn’t launching a hot yoga program.

If you’ve safely survived our vetting questions, congrats! Your campaign is ready for the big leagues!

So, now what?

  • Write a press release

Even if you don’t plan to post it on the wire services (and be sure to check with each wire service if you do — many do not accept releases that contain ‘false information’), press releases provide a quick point of reference for media contacts wanting to know more.

  • Nail down your messaging and strategy

Before contacting your press friendlies, have a thorough understanding of exactly how you are positioning your joke. Believe it or not, if your joke is believable enough, large national outlets will respond, many of them with the belief that you are making a real announcement. Do NOT let these crucial contacts believe something that isn’t real. Have a message in place for when press ask, ‘is this a joke?’  

  • Consider timing

If widespread press is your goal, rising to the top on April 1 will prove difficult! Take a lesson from IHOP and Fatburger and find a date that’s a little less crowded to ensure that your big announcement shines.

Happy pranking from your favorite lifestyle PR agency!