I have just learnt that I may be part of the minority that actually doesn’t mind corporate April Fools’ Day pranks. Get it right, I loathe personal pranks but corporate pranks have always been satisfying in a different kind of way – either leave me impressed or happy that I wasn’t part of the team that had to come up with such a sucky prank.
However, it has occurred to me that a good number of people do not appreciate these pranks, starting with tech journalist, some geeks and even Microsoft’s Chief Marketing Officer, Chris Capossela. In a leaked memo that was obtained by The Verge, Chris Capossela instructed the various teams within Microsoft not to participate in any corporate pranks.
According to Chris, data shows that April Fools’ Day pranks have had a negative impact on corporates, what he calls, “unwanted news cycles”. He, however, does agree that sometimes these pranks can be amusing but history shows there’s no time that Microsoft pranks have actually been amusing – to say the least.
The internal memo puts a ban on external April Fools’ Day pranks leaving white space for employees to have fun internally pulling pranks on each other – this, I could choose to interpret as selfish but anyway, here’s the full memo:
It’s that time of year when tech companies try to show their creativity with April Fools’ Day stunts. Sometimes the outcomes are amusing and sometimes they’re not. Either way, data tells us these stunts have limited positive impact and can actually result in unwanted news cycles.
Considering the headwinds the tech industry is facing today, I’m asking all teams at Microsoft to not do any public-facing April Fools’ Day stunts. I appreciate that people may have devoted time and resources to these activities, but I believe we have more to lose than gain by attempting to be funny on this one day.
Please forward to your teams and internal partners to ensure people are aware of the ask to stand down on external April Fools’ Day activities.
So far we have seen a number of fake product announcements from both local and international companies – the ones that seem to still love the idea of pulling the legs of their customers. I cannot recall at what point April Fools’ Day pranks became a corporate thing but I bet it was in an effort to stay cool and maybe connect better with their millennial customer base. Anyway, this could be the beginning of the end to corporate April Fools’ Day pranks, sad 🙁