Oh how we laughed. April 1st, April Fools Day, has become a staple for brands wanting to share their sense of humour and PR agencies wanting to gain some cheap social media traffic
The motorcycle business isn’t immune from this, and yesterday the web was awash with plenty of ‘Fake News’ designed to amuse and entertain us. The problem is, who knows what to believe these days? In a world where companies are accused of influencing people’s opinions through social media manipulation anything, it seems, is believable.
This year’s April Fools were probably easier to spot than normal, not least as April 1st lands on a Sunday, and Easter Sunday as that. Anyone with a basic knowledge of PR knows that you don’t release information on a Sunday, when the news desks are running on skeleton staff.
Still, Triumph’s effort looked pretty legit when it dropped in the mailbox during the week, under embargo until 00:01 on Sunday April 1st. Prepared on Triumph headed paper, we were told that Triumph’s new Adventure Experience would have an attraction allowing you to recreate Steve McQueen’s iconic fence jumping stunt from the movie The Great Escape.
Cool, and so far not too far fetched. After all, if you’d told us two years ago that Triumph would go racing and supply the Moto2 grid, you’d probably think that someone was pulling your leg. Spokesperson was the fabulously monikered Lee Perfaith (who strangely enough, we’ve never heard of before), and he told us: “Triumph’s range of adventure bikes are synonymous around the world with off-road performance and there’s no more well-known wheels up leap than The Great Escape. The way I look at it, if you can ride a motorcycle, then there’s no reason you can’t jump on one. I can’t wait to see how everyone gets on.”
If that didn’t give the game away, the comedy sketch and the concept of landing in a play pit of plastic balls probably did. Nice try, Triumph, and a nice bit of publicity for your recently opened centre down in Wales.
BMW was a bit more sophisticated in its trickery, with a release that epitomised their usual Teutonic detail and came with some pretty fancy images. Apparently their new iParts programme allows spare parts to be 3D printed using a machine stored in a special top box. Quite handy if you break down in the middle of the desert, and probably feasible one day. Maybe it’s more of a look inside the brains of BMW’s engineering department than a full on prank. Or maybe they’re not actually joking and it really will be available from BMW dealerships from September 2018…
Meanwhile KTM and Yamaha got into the spirit of things with some crudely photoshopped images of special edition bikes. Pink KTM motocrossers or a Cadbury’s purple YZF-R3? Ah well, at least they made an effort (and it was clearly obvious that they were joking).
The racing world didn’t escape the April Fool phenomenon either. In Britain, the British superbike organisers announced that snow was on the horizon and that the race date was being changed. That was no joke and although the snow didn’t arrive, the Easter Monday weather was absolutely filthy. They weren’t fooling, and it was a great judgement call.
Meanwhile, on Saturday night we went to bed with news coming out of Australia that World Superbikes and MotoGP were to merge. Judging by the lack of interest in world superbikes, and the GP matching pace of top man Jonathan Rea, it’s a highly plausible story, sometime, but on Sunday April 1st? You’re having a laugh!
But the biggest piece of fake news came from MotoGP themselves. Just as Europe grew weary of being pranked, America woke up and gave us the news that legendary racer Kevin Schwantz was being entered as a wild-card in the upcoming Grand Prix of the Americas. Written with a straight bat, it said that the 53-year-old Texan (the age limit for GP racing is 50) would race for the (genuine) NTS team in Moto2. On any other day it would seem far fetched but plausible, after all who remembers Jeremy McWilliams riding a Brough Superior at the 2014 British Grand Prix? Sometimes real stuff happens that you couldn’t actually make up!