Everyone agrees that April Fools is the best day ever. Especially if you’re a blogger because you can pretty much write anything at all and get away with it. Google wants to nuke China? Yep, you can write that. Want to accuse the next attorney general of California of assaulting you? Check. Etc.
And Google takes April Fools very seriously. They launched Gmail on April 1, 2004, which is totally meta. And there are so many good Google jokes from April Fools past: Google Paper, Google TiSP, and Google Romance were all winners. One Google joke even erupted into a minor Wikipedia war over time travel.
Google Topeka? Not so funny. They’ve changed their logo on the Google homepage to Topeka and give this link as an explanation. They’ve changed their corporate name, they say, to Topeka for the day.
The problem is the whole joke is really just a way to promote Google’s experimental fiber network. 1,100 cities are begging to be part of the program and doing crazy things, like renaming their city name to Google, to get picked.
We didn’t reach this decision lightly; after all, we had a fair amount of brand equity tied up in our old name. But the more we surfed around (the former) Topeka’s municipal website, the more kinship we felt with this fine city at the edge of the Great Plains.
Anyway, if you’re promoting your own stuff on April Fools you need to be extra funny. This isn’t extra funny.
And what happened to Google Jail? As far as I can tell it remains unannounced. Maybe they got mad that Fast Company scooped them on their own joke. Or maybe someone at Google decided it was a bad idea to mock the horrific prison situation here in the U.S.
We’re grading this one an “D-” on our list of 2010 April Fools jokes. I need Google to go back to basics and get April Fools right again. This is too important not to do it right.