If anyone tells you April Fools’ Day is fun, don’t listen to them. It is a tedious tradition that in terms of the online world means millions of fake news items hitting the world at the same time. Microsoft is now taking a stand against April Fools’ Day corporate pranks. In fact, the company is outright banning them.
Microsoft marketing chief Chris Capossela has sent a memo to Microsoft’s global staff warning them to not take part in hoaxes on Monday. The Verge obtained the internal document and reports Capossela says, “data tells us these stunts have limited positive impact and can actually result in unwanted news cycles.”
“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,” says Capossela. That’s a subtle burn by Capossela as April Fools’ Day epitomizes people “trying” to be funny and failing.
Corporate pranks are even worse as they have caused tech companies headaches in the past. For example, Google once muted threads in Gmail, causing major problems for millions of users. Microsoft itself has participated in April Fools’ Day in the past too.
Don’t be Fooled
Perhaps some of the company’s employees knew this ban was incoming so decided to do April Fools early. Just last week, some employees within the company relaunched the MS Office Clippy helper from Office 97. Clippy was a much-maligned feature but was repackaged last week as stickers in Microsoft Teams.
The release lasted a single day before Microsoft removed it. Reports suggest “brand police” within the company forced the removal.
Here’s Capossela’s full internal 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.”