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What does April Fool communicate?

Did you see Virgin’s glass floored planes announcement on Monday?

Court jester (harlequin) dancing as April Fool
In short, they joined the April Fools Day spirit and announced a plane that would allow you to watch the passing ground as you flew. Spectacular views maybe, scary probably!

A number of other companies also ran some jokes on the day, and it got me thinking about the message behind such jokes.

What does it say?

Running a public joke like that can obviously be taken a number of ways, but I think most people appreciate it as long as it remains appropriate.

Making a joke shows the company can be fun and don’t take themselves too seriously. It may make it seem more approachable and flexible, too.

It could send a message of being too frivolous or flippant, but I think that comes back to keeping the joke appropriate – to the business brand as well as generally appropriate for the public.

Is it a good business tool?

I think it can be good for a number of reasons:

  1. making people smile and feel good generates warmth towards your brand
  2. getting into the spirit of a particular day or event shows community involvement and can also build good feelings towards the business
  3. if it’s well done, people will share the story so the business gets lots of publicity. How many Facebook and Twitter mentions did you see of company April Fools jokes this week?
  4. it can be fun for the staff and thus build morale and staff retention

Of course, these benefits need to be weighed against the cost of running such a joke. It may not cost a lot of money to Photoshop an image or put a message on a website, but there is a cost in time to plan a joke so it works and goes live at the right time.

Speaking of timing, remember that April Fools jokes should only be run before midday on 1 April. That can get tricky with a global audience such as on social media.

So what do you think – do you enjoy such jokes?

How does it impact on your view of the business behind the joke?

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