A month or so ago, I was chatting with my parents on Skype. They told me a story designed to horrify middle-class England. Cadbury - purveyor of proper British chocolate, not that Nestle muck - had dropped the word 'Easter' from their (Easter) eggs. No more Easter for anyone.
I went to Snopes while they were still fretting about it. It's not true.
Debunk deployed, panic over. Or so I thought.
Cadbury has run (Easter) egg hunts - the Easter Egg Trail - at various National Trust properties for over 10 years. This year, they're calling it 'Cadbury's Great British Egg Hunt'.
You'll note there's a particular word missing there.
The National Trust's website promotes the event with the name Cadbury gave it. Or it did, until Twitter descended. It's been hastily edited to mention the holiday.
(There was a 'Head of Content and PR' vacancy posted the same day, but it looks like maternity cover. Not a sudden breakdown over eggs of the Twitter variety.)
Am I horrified? Nope. I'm not remotely religious. I don't see the UK/GB as primarily Christian. I don't feel like taking 'Easter' off a pack insults John Cadbury's faith. Mainly because I insult faith enough by myself. From that BBC link above, the British Humanist Association agrees with me:
"Easter is a fun time of year for people of all ages and beliefs. It's disappointing that the Church saw fit to whip up a storm in an eggcup over this and in a bid to maintain its relevance in an increasingly non-religious country."
Bonus points for 'storm in an eggcup', well done that man.
Religion aside, we don't sell, buy and eat chocolate eggs for any other occasion. They're Easter eggs by default. So the word 'Easter' on an egg box doesn't mean or clarify anything. Like 'Christmas tree', or 'Advent calendar'. Take 'Easter' out, and nobody's going to start wondering if it's a Candlemas egg instead.
But... I admit I got into a quick Twitter convo about this anyway. A snarky comment about how putting 'Easter' in between 'Cadbury' and 'Egg' might dilute their marketing.
From a marketer's perspective, it's not a stretch to imagine that that might be why.
My tweets accidentally copied in the National Trust, and I got a lovely message from them. They've been very patient, considering. It wasn't their event name to choose.
People jumping on the National Trust over this are conveniently forgetting it's a Cadbury event, with Cadbury branding. The Trust had no say on that aspect. They're pretty innocent in the whole thing. Unless allowing heathens on your lawns is a crime now.
And the National Trust website does have 'Easter' on it... over 13,000 times.
Both of these non-incidents were fueled by social media. The original 'Cadbury hates Easter' outrage from my parents came from Facebook. Yesterday's outraged mob focused their efforts on tweeting madly. (That's both angrily and at a rate of knots.)
For all the activism and globally-trending hashtags, social is still where many of the biggest lies proliferate. You can get a made-up story trending around the world in less time than it takes to yell 'FAKE NEWS MAINSTREAM MEDIA'.
April Fool's day wasn't even a week ago. This was a bad time for someone to twist the truth. And the National Trust's taken it right in the notifications.
Cadbury hasn't come out unscathed, of course. But their approach to damage control was different. They stopped replying to people much earlier, and tacked up a 'you're all wrong lol stop it' tweet.
It did the trick, by the look of it. Whereas the National Trust was still replying to a deluge of tweets 5 hours ago. Why am I unsurprised that Cadbury knows the best way to deal with eggs...