On Wednesday, the blog of Chicago running store Fleet Feet posted a notice about an upcoming event:
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Our First Tattoo Night!
At Fleet Feet Sports Chicago, we do everything possible to satisfy the needs of our customers. That’s why, after receiving dozens of requests from our regulars, we’re hosting our first annual Tattoo Night! Scheduled for Tuesday, April 1, 2014, customers can come to any one of our three Chicago-area locations and get their own running-related tattoo.
No, we’re not talking about the cute temporary tattoos that wash off after a day or two – we’re offering the chance to display your love for running and fitness forever in ink on your skin!
Each of our stores will have a safe and sanitary station set up in which customers can get their tattoos. Customers will be able to choose from any one of more than 100 designs, or they can work with our tattoo artist to customize their own emblem. A few of the options are below:
“As a regular runner, I’ve been thinking a lot about expressing my passion for running with a permanent tattoo,” said Matt N. “I’m really excited about Fleet Feet Sports’s Tattoo night, and I’m bringing several of my runner friends so we can all get similar marks.”
Dave Zimmer, owner of Fleet Feet Sports Chicago, is just as excited to participate in the event as he is to organize it. He plans to get the store’s logo tattooed on the top of his head.
“I’m so proud of the community we’ve built here in Chicago through Fleet Feet Sports, and I thought I’d show my pride by getting a tattoo for the world to see,” Dave said. “My hairline started receding years ago, and I figure I could also make use of the space for a little shameless promotion,” he said with a laugh.
So come join us on Tuesday, April 1, and express your love for running and fitness with your very own permanent tattoo. Imagine all the attention you’ll get once the weather warms up enough to show off your new “ink!”
Written By William Polk
Now, there were a few clues that it might be a joke: the April 1 date of the event (though, traditionally, you don’t publish such things in advance but rather on the date itself) and the lack of a specified start time of the event. And the top-of-the-head logo-tattoo is obviously over the top (pun intended), but is in the ballpark of the sort of humor I’ve seen in real press releases.
Erica, Shaun, and I were talking about whether we might be able to make it over there. It also wasn’t specified, but if it was free or subsidized, I’d definitely get a new running tattoo. Because, I’m a runner and I’m tattooed. And I know just from looking around on the lakefront path and at events, a lot of runners are tattooed as well.
Well, today they added this to the end of the post:
Just be sure to remember…
(Everything included above is fictional. There will be no Tattoo Night at any of our locations.)
Now, I don’t want to go as far as to say I’m offended. But I’m for sure miffed. Because to my eyes, other than the top-of-the-head joke, the whole “joke” of this April Fools post seems to be “ha, ha, as if any runner would really get a tattoo!” And that just seems tone deaf to the actual makeup of the Chicago running community.
Now, I get that comedy is hard (seriously, let me tell you about it) and maybe the real lesson is just that businesses should avoid April Fools’ pranks (especially on March 26). But businesses should extra-avoid jokes that make a significant part of their customer base wonder if they’re the ones being made fun of.
Update 1: In conversation around the house, Erica clarified that, just like your parents, she was more disappointed than mad. “I was really looking forward to the tattoo night, and even if we couldn’t make it over, I thought Fleet Feet was really cool for having it. Now I’m disappointed that they’re not and I think they’re really uncool.” I checked over on Fleet Feet’s Facebook page and at least one of the few comments on their post linking to the article there was someone asking a seemingly-legit question about pricing. I think Fleet Feet is disappointing quite a few people.
Update 2: This whole thing prompted Erica to post something she’s been stewing about for a while.