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RISMEDIA, March 29, 2010—Want to pull off an April Fools’ joke that will go down in company history? Not so fast. Sixty-eight percent of advertising and marketing executives interviewed by The Creative Group consider April Fools’ pranks unsuitable for the office.

The national study was developed by The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service providing creative, advertising, marketing and Web professionals on a project basis, and conducted by an independent research firm. It is based on more than 500 telephone interviews- approximately 375 with marketing executives randomly selected from companies with 100 or more employees and 125 with advertising executives randomly selected from agencies with 20 or more employees.

Advertising and marketing executives were asked, “How appropriate do you think it is to play April Fools’ jokes in the office?” Their responses:

Very appropriate – 3%
Somewhat appropriate – 27%
Not very appropriate – 27%
Not at all appropriate – 41%
Don’t know/no answer – 2%

“Many advertising and marketing teams are stretched thin, and there may be less acceptance of activities that are viewed as potential distractions,” said Donna Farrugia, executive director of The Creative Group. “April Fools’ jokes often have a target, too, which can make them hard to pull off without hurting someone’s feelings.”

A certain degree of levity, however, can have a positive impact on the workplace, noted Farrugia. “Humor that is inclusive and well-intentioned can be a morale booster, which is especially important when business conditions are difficult. Employees who can foster a more positive work environment are assets to any team.”

The Creative Group offers three tips for adding levity to the workplace without crossing the line:

Honor office “superstars.” Remember senior superlatives from high school: most school spirit, friendliest, and best all around? Why not recognize the MVPs at your firm? You can give awards for “best penmanship,” “tidiest workspace” or “most likely to tweet company news” – just be sure to keep it clean, not mean. If you want to go all out, hold an awards ceremony, complete with red carpet walks, printed certificates and short acceptance speeches.

Create some confusion. Pick a lesser-known holiday to celebrate, like National Pigs-in-a-Blanket Day (April 24) or Do Something Nice Day (Oct. 5). Organize activities surrounding the event, such as a cook-off or designated time when employees can surprise their coworkers with a treat.

Have fun year-round. Office “play” needn’t be restricted to April Fools’ Day. Periodically have employees come together to celebrate a topic of their choice, like “flashback to the ’80s” or “favorite reality TV stars.” Create costume or trivia contests to add to the enjoyment.

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