Deep down we're all fools…
First, let’s address the elephant in the room: this isn’t an April Fools’ joke, though we know there will be lots of them today.
It’s not that we’re not funny, because Dad Jokes are exceedingly popular around here (although I suppose, we can debate the humour in Dad jokes… we are a team divided on the topic)… it’s that April Fools’ day offers, alongside the chance to prank your partner/colleagues/strangers, the chance to reflect on our industry.
The exact origins of April Fools’ Day, also called All Fools’ Day, remain a mystery despite it being celebrated for centuries by a variety of different cultures. It is sometimes traced back to France in 1582, when the switch from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar meant the start of the year moved from April 1 to January 1. Those who were slow to get the news became the butt of jokes and hoaxes, and were labelled as young, gullible, or easily hooked (hence the term ‘poisson d’avril’ (April fish) – an easily hooked fish.
The ways that customers have been treated by brands over the years could, ostensibly, be likened to the treatment of these poisson d’avril folks – and the fact that there is so much poor advertising out there is evidence that some in our industry still believe that their customers are fools.
One of my favourite quotes from John Cusack goes -
“We’re all kind of God’s fools. The process is going to make fools out of all of us, I think: fools in the best sense, in the sense of struggling and innocent and vulnerable.”
We’ve talked before about the importance of humanity in marketing, which begs the question: how do you think the idea of being a fool, in the context of Cusack’s quote, might be relevant to advertising?
If we are all fools, in the sense that we’re “struggling and innocent and vulnerable”, should we not embrace that, in the pursuit of creating better brand communications? Can we look for the humanity in our audiences instead of pulling the wool over their eyes?
Cult brands – brands who achieve fame, adoration, loyalty from their audiences – are those who have tapped into this humanity. These are brands that have made space for, and often celebrated, the messiness that is human existence. That can be through humour, through joy, through sadness, or through inspiration, but what’s crucial is the key piece that it taps into an emotion.
We know that emotion builds brands, and we know that human-to-human marketing creates more impactful connections between brands and consumers. So without sounding trite, pretentious or like a No-Fun-Frank - we make a humble suggestion...
Stop equating fools with “kick me” signs and instead see them as what they are: each and every one of us, each and every day. We’re fools who deserve John Cusack holding a boombox over his head, playing a song that speaks to our soul… or at least, who deserve to be spoken to as humans and wooed on occasion.
Curious? You can read more about our thoughts on business-to-human marketing in the B2B space here. You can see how we brought humanity into higher education and artificial intelligence for our friends at University of Bradford here. Or you can have a chuckle about how we promoted safer technology here.
Now, who put cereal in my shoes?!