Ricky Bacardi was throwing a bachelors party for groom to be Harvey Wallbanger at the Tropicabana Hotel in Florida on March 31, the night before Harvey’s April  1st wedding . As the night wore on, Ricky suggested that they all play last man standing with shots of Aha Loco tequila. While Harvey was drinking real tequila, he had no idea that his friends were actually drinking water. With every shot of Aha Loco, Harvey became increasingly tipsy. Once he was wallbanging drunk, Harvey’s friends took his wallet, his identification, belt and shoes and carried him to the AeroSunshine airport where they booked Harvey on a cross-country flight to California, telling the flight attendant that he had to make it to his wedding the next morning and to please make sure he got off the plane -in California (obviously, this was a time of kinder, gentler airport regulations!).

Well, the next morning Harvey woke up in a California airport with no money, no identification, no wallet, barefoot and pants fitting loosely. He wandered out to the curb trying to make sense of what had happened. When Harvey asked the local constabulary where he was, he was arrested for vagrancy and public intoxication. Needless to say Harvey missed his wedding in Florida later that day. Not appreciating the humor of the prank, Harvey’s bride-to-be (actually, no his former bride-to-be) and her family declared war on Ricky Bacardi and his band of fellow groomsmen. The end result? Scorched earth litigation between the bride’s family and the groom’s friends that resulted in a law suit for the wedding, the reimbursed guest expenses, the reception at the Tropicabana, and the honeymoon expenses all of which were non-cancellable on short notice. The bride’s family won the suit and the ordeal ended all of their friendships, not to mention the engagement.

Tilting the Scales in Your Favor.

When does an April Fool’s prank become a joke? Perhaps, when a lawsuit is filed and friendships are flushed. When is going too far, too far? Maybe when the prank eliminates all options for recovery. Think ahead! IS there a way for the person on the receiving end of the prank to recover to the same status he or she was in before the prank? If not, better tone it down a bit. On the other hand, you can be like Google and Topeka, KS and use April to “fool” everyone else. Google created the biggest joke of the day by changing its name to “Topeka.”  It was a gesture based on a Google contest for American cities to compete to host and test Google’s high-speed Internet service.

Arguably, both Google and Topeka “won” because of the favorable media coverage that both received for pulling an April Fool’s prank on the rest of us. Great prank, great interest, great advertising, no harm done.