Ell-oh-hell. Nobody likes a curmudgeon, especially on April Fools Day. It’s a day to laugh at yourself, join in on friendly jokes, and try to take things a little less seriously. On the other hand, jokes can be taken too far, and there is such a thing as too much merriment. As of late, the automakers and their advertising agencies’ approach to April Fools Day is akin to that class clown who needs approval from his peers so much, he keeps trotting out lamer and lamer jokes until it becomes annoying.
The problem, in part, comes down to self-styled comedians somehow getting the green light to play jester by auto execs who wouldn’t know fun if it magically appeared before them in a spreadsheet. In part, it arises from PR firms’ need to fill ever-demanding social media calendars. It also stems from corporations trying to make themselves seem relatable. In a 2019 Vox article criticizing major brands for their “feebler and more exhausting” April Fools Day pranks, Kaitlyn Tiffany argued that the trend is just another attempt to separate consumers from their money:
“Asked why April Fool’s Day is important to brands, (Vice creative director and advertising expert Alex Holder) said, “It’s a chance for them to prove to their customers that they can be funny and human.” (Note: Brands are not funny and human, they are attempting to stand out and capture human attention in order to capture your dollars.) “It’s also the only time of a year some brands feel safe telling a joke,” she added. “How sad is that? Waiting all year to be funny? It’s like only telling your husband you love him on Valentine’s Day.” (Note: It’s not sad. No matter how smart and funny the person hired to tweet in the first person from a brand’s Twitter account, a brand is not a person.)”
So, as the photochops-that-pass-for-pranks from carmakers and others in the auto industry start flooding your inbox and news feed this morning (and at the risk of being seen as curmudgeons ourselves), let’s run down some of the worst April Fools Day jokes that automakers have tried to pass off as fun.