April Fools: Imposter Syndrome in Full-Flight

April 4, 2023

From creating the world’s happiest meal to finding our love language or a creating a fish free future on dating apps - there’s something special about April Fools.

Dare I say, it’s one of the most talked about campaign periods outside of the Super Bowl. Giving the public a surge of interesting and thought-provoking concepts from the brands they know and love. Which says a lot about how boring and serious we’ve become.

Undoubtedly, there is an incredible raft of debate on both sides of the table when it comes to the notion of April Fools. Though I believe it raises more concerns regarding the complacent nature of marketing and our sense of imposter syndrome.

Where brands believe they are not capable of running entertaining and engaging campaigns that also maintain or even strengthen trust with the public. Using the cover of the day as an excuse rather than embracing creativity more regularly.

Yet, our reliance on April 1st as a creative outlet begs a simple question: should we be dreaming up and executing less serious ideas?

In reality, we love April Fools for the simple fact that it gives us the weird, the wacky and the wonderful. Often showing us a glimpse of a reality that doesn’t feel out-of-this-world through creative executions that feel so realistic that they take us for a ride.

So why don’t we maintain the same approach with more of our campaigns? Shouldn’t we always be aiming to elicit a reaction that stops them in their tracks? Making them say “What the f*%k?!”, in a positive manner of course.

Personally, I feel these campaigns buck the norm and have the potential to create a higher volume of effective business results compared to many of the existing and often bland campaigns we see today.

While I’m not advocating for us to dismiss the research and principles established by icons including Les Binet and Byron Sharp when it comes to effectiveness. I am however acknowledging that we have slightly lost our way in how we execute some good old-fashioned truths and provocations.

Unfortunately, with the proliferation of disposable media in our always-on world, brands have become obsessed with not rocking the boat. Doing everything in their power to avoid becoming the next subject of cancel culture. While this has become a necessity, it has caused us to lose sight of the lighter side of life.

Traditionally we’re told that content must reach, educate, inspire and engage in order to resonate with our audience before they take a purchase action. Yet, we have largely forgotten to entertain. Defaulting to the comfort zone of preaching to the public about our product features, and the pain points it solves.

Part of our fascination and connection with this time of the year is found in the sheer level of entertainment we receive. Brands step beyond the mundane and showcase their creative flair, oftentimes with concepts that we either love or love to hate.

Why can’t the Big McNugget Boot be real? Even if this is a recycled Nuggies idea 👀

Better yet, bring on a can of Mali-BRU while enjoying a game of Megxit: Call of Duke-y!

Unfortunately, in my opinion, we have become all consumed by marketing rules that we have strayed from what excites and interests actual people.

It’s no surprise that brands - such as Liquid Death, Mr Beast or even Aldi - that have broken this mould of not taking themselves too seriously have quickly become brands we all know, love and wish we worked for.

While April Fools allows brands to have a hall pass for a single day to waver from their otherwise bland and safe communications. It should not be held as the only time of year that we can break the rules, cause a stir and have fun.

It’s time for us to embrace the quirky once again.

Words by Blair Ellis.