From April Fools to national news
I have to admit it. I was a little bit nervous.
After all, it was a little like returning to the scene of the crime.
I remembered it well. It was back around the first of April. You probably remember it, too.
It was one of my favorite stories I ever wrote. Well, one of my favorite April Fools Day stories anyway.
Preparation H was going to film a television commercial in our little Faribault County town of Kiester. All because of the name of the town, a word used to reference that part of the human anatomy which sometimes needs to use Preparation H.
I took great care to craft the story so that it sounded exactly like one of our famous or infamous April Fools Day stories.
And many, many readers believed it was. They were proud of themselves for having spotted it as fake right away.
But, as I then revealed in this Notes from the Editor column the very next week, the Kiester commercial was not our April Fools Day story. Because it was totally true. The Register’s April Fools Day joke on our dear readers was to get them to believe that it was fake when in fact it was all too real.
We broke that story about the Preparation H commercial in the pages of the Register during the last week of March, right before April 1. And, we did it despite the fact that some folks in Kiester didn’t think we should, because the public relations people they had been dealing with did not want it out in the news media yet.
But, I just couldn’t wait. I needed to run it right away. I wanted it to be mistaken by our readers as our fake April Fools Day story.
And, with a little help from Kiester mayor Doug Trytten, I got most of the facts and wrote the story.
Now, last Tuesday night, right during an ominous thunderstorm, I was headed to Kiester to cover the Preparation H party for the community of Kiester. And I knew the public relations people would be there and I might have to face the music for what I had done.
Maybe they wouldn’t recognize me. Maybe they wouldn’t remember the story.
Nope. Mayor Trytten made sure to let them know the minute I arrived that “this is the guy, the guy who wrote ‘that’ story.”
But the PR people and the folks from Preparation H had liked the story, and they loved to hear how many of our readers thought for sure it was our annual April Fools Day story. They all laughed about it and agreed that it did, indeed, sound like something made up just to be a joke. An April Fools joke.
They are rather used to hearing jokes about their product and they pretty much know every single word ever used to describe the human body’s gluteus maximus.
They have been the butt of many a joke, they all said. Just like the town of Kiester. It is something they have in common.
Many of the PR people were from a firm in New Jersey. They had flown into Minneapolis that morning and driven to Kiester only to have to seek shelter from the thunderstorm that hit Tuesday night.
They were here to throw a big party for the whole town of Kiester. It was just a way they could say thank you to everyone in the community for letting them use the town for the commercial, and for being so nice to them when they were here filming the 15 second commercial.
The party went on as scheduled, the entire town showed up, and the people from Preparation H and its PR firm were all very nice to everyone.
Even to an editor who maybe wrote a story a bit earlier than they had wanted it.
The commercial received its world-wide premiere showing in Kiester last Tuesday night. However, the truth is the ad has been on the airways for some time now.
While it is only 15 seconds long, it does indeed feature the town of Kiester and some of its residents, including Mayor Trytten. It also says to get comfortable in Kiester. And get comfortable with Preparation H.
The story that once was our fake April Fools Day joke is being reported in daily newspapers across the state, even the country, and on TV stations in Mankato, Albert Lea and the Twin Cities.
And, while many of those reporters and TV news personalities admitted they did not really even know there was a Kiester, Minnesota, they sure do now.
Of course they had to throw in a few jokes about the name and the product.
But, as both Mayor Trytten and the Preparation H people said Tuesday night, any publicity is good publicity.
“They will remember the name of our town now,” he said.