Google shows it’s no fool when it comes to April 1st
9th April 2013
Okay, so this is a wee bit late, but I thought that, since the world went nuts for April Fools this year, it was a topic worthy of comment.
You could barely move for April Fools japery last week. From Virgin's plane to Sony's cat headphones (and Hamster sound system) to Hotels.com’s Buckingham Palace room to Twitter charging for vowels.
But the undisputed leaders of the field were Google – as they have been for the last few years.
What is it they do that captures the imagination though?
Take this ...
Or this ...
What should the rest of us learn?
Well first of all that no one has access to an audience quite like Google, for sure. They can drop content into a pool of millions of eager users and fans – which is always going to give them a head start.
But what occurred to me is that, unlike so many others, Google does April Fools with something few others share: confidence.
The confidence to create brilliant content that is the vital ingredient of an online story, with high production value videos that get staff involved and engaged.
The confidence to invest money in the ideas they come up with – Google Blue just doesn't sound right on paper, but throw some very serious talking heads and Blue Man Group at it and somehow it sort of works.
But most importantly, they have the confidence to have some fun at their own expense.
So many of the so-called gags I saw this year were just a wee bit ... earnest. Desperate bids to get the product in there by all means necessary, over-keen to try and weave in a sales message, rather than drop the corporate line for a day to simply have some fun.
Google (and YouTube) meanwhile, take the opportunity to send themselves up. To have a joke at their own expense.
And as a slightly austere engineering business that, on every other day of the year takes itself so profoundly seriously, it's refreshing to see the brand let its hair down and provide us with a laugh.
It comes from taking the piss out of their own products, their own style of speaking to the world.
But it comes too from the ideas.
The notion that YouTube has existed simply to find the worlds best video and will close while all the entries are vetted is brilliant for its insanity.
But it is brilliant too for its willingness to gently joke about the site and brand itself.
I never thought I'd quote Jilly Goulden, but Google is (as she once described a particularly fine white wine), cheeky and not afraid to laugh at itself. And when it comes to 1st April 2014, that's an approach we could all learn from.
A confident approach is one that has confidence that you can afford, above all things, to lay on a laugh at your own expense. Not just financially, but in style, approach and in the ideas themselves.
Watch and learn folks, watch and learn ...
James Gordon-MacIntosh is founder and Managing Partner at Hope&Glory PR.