Sunday, April 02, 2017

Why I Don't Do April Fools On This Blog Anymore

The other day, I said I'd tell you more about April Fools Day on this blog, and why I haven't tried to pull one off for ten years. I also said I'd do it yesterday, on the actual day. Well, yesterday was also my first true relaxing day off in ages, and it all just got away from me. So, a day late, the story of April Fools Day 2007! (I did talk about it a bit last year, but I hope this will be the definitive account.)

First, the set-up: in the spring of 2007, McDonald's had Wizard of Oz toys in their Happy Meals for the first time. These were miniature versions of eight Madame Alexander dolls, and they proved to be very popular. The Oz community online at the time was particularly interested, and lamented that there were only eight of them—and the Wizard wasn't one of them. I had plans for another April Fools joke that year, but I ran out of time and resources (I still don't, and the window has passed, so I may tell you about it next year). Then I thought about the McDonald's promotion and the timing of it, and the perfect joke hit me. This entry was the result, and I was pretty proud of it. I even backed it up with pictures from the Madame Alexander website. And like all April Fools jokes I've ever pulled online, I make it pretty clear, if you click on any links, that it is a joke. So if you read the "article" I cite, you'll be in on it pretty quickly. If you take time to think about it, too, it doesn't hold up, as the lead time needed to make, package, and distribute the new figures, as well as the need to alter everything to push the next promotion pack another week, would be a logistical nightmare.

At this time, this blog was so new that I'd only had one previous attempt at an April Fools joke (this one here, as it happens), and it hadn't had much impact; most people saw through it right away. So I was completely unprepared for how much my little jest made. Before long, many Oz websites, message boards, and the like were reporting on it as if it were real news. Clearly, several people were not checking on my "source" article. Further exacerbating things were the ones who did look for more than one source—all of which had got it from me, so that wasn't a lot of help. When I finally got word out to some of the sites, and people finally found the "this is an April Fools joke" disclaimer, there was a lot of negative feedback, and I was in the doghouse with some people for a bit.

After a few days, however, things settled down, and all seemed to go back to normal—that is, until the next issue of The Baum Bugle, the journal of the International Wizard of Oz Club, arrived a few weeks later. There, in an item on the Happy Meal toys, was the news that the promotion had been extended! Whoops! I immediately wrote to the editor (I don't think I even finished reading that issue before I hit my computer), and there was a retraction in the next issue, but that just showed me how much impact the joke had.

After that, I decided my blog was too powerful and influential, and I shouldn't post any more April Fools jokes. And I haven't since then; instead, I try to post a warning every March 31. But some year, if the perfect opportunity presents itself, I just may try again.

About a year and a half later, and nowhere near April 1, McDonald's repeated the promotion, but this time there were twelve, and one of them was indeed the Wizard. No Mayor yet, but I did offer McDonald's and Madame Alexander a few ideas for future promotions right here. I would hope my all-too-successful April Fools joke had something to do with that, but I have my doubts.

A few years ago, thinking the whole thing had finally run its course, it reared its head again at the Winkie Convention (now known as OzCon International, come on over to Portland at the end of June for this year's edition!). I was on a panel about Oz blogs when the moderator posted my Happy Meal joke post and asked for the story. So I had to recount the whole saga again. But now that the definitive story is here, maybe that will be the end of it at last.

But I wouldn't bet on it!

1 comment:

David Whitten said...

It's sad that the fun of Oz and the fun of April Fools don't mix, but I think part of that is the hunger of folks for a light, enjoyable story, full of puns and not grim. Thank you for trying, and making Oz a better place for those of us who read your stories and comics.