It may seem like a strange topic for this column in the fall edition of IR Magazine, but we are not talking here about everyone’s favorite chocolate ovoid treats that are handed out by a mythical rabbit each spring.
No, we are talking about digital hidden messages, little jokes hidden in computer code or long passages of text. The first was in a video game – 1979’s Adventure on the Atari console – and was named for its similarity to an Easter egg hunt. A recent paper by Matthew Lakier and Daniel Vogel of the University of Waterloo in Canada delves into some of the ways in which Easter eggs are useful for companies, from rewarding users’ curiosity to building hype around marketing or even recruiting new employees.
Playfulness may not sound like a professional attribute, but these researchers argue that Easter eggs have their time and place as a way of ‘bestowing humanity on companies and their products’.
Below, IR Magazine suggests a few Easter eggs of your very own to consider to start injecting a bit of that same sense of camaraderie into your corporate communications.
The ‘askew’ code
Typing the word ‘askew’ into Google’s search engine suddenly makes the whole page appear off-kilter, as if knocked from its supporting structure. You might consider adding the code word for any webcam-produced events you choose to host as a signal to jauntily adjust the viewing angle with a wry smile.
You could even tie the event to particular words from your earnings script: ‘upside’ could result in a lift, while ‘unexpected downturn’ could, well, you can probably work it out…
The New Yorker website will display amusing messages on its smartphone app as if describing what is happening behind the scenes: ‘captioning cartoons’ or ‘checking facts’. You may want to add the same to your holding slides before a big earnings presentation.
It may be wise to err on the side of caution, though: ‘color-coding pie charts’ and ‘spell-checking CEO’s comments’ may go down better than ‘massaging this quarter’s numbers’ or ‘taking a vape break’.
A treat for tired eyes
WordPress, the website-building service that powers the online portals for the likes of Disney and the White House, includes a reward for those who persevere with reading its entire terms of service. Tucked away deep in Section 14, which contains sweeps of legalese detailing disclaimers and warranties, is a sentence that sticks out: ‘If you’re reading this, here’s a treat’. Clicking on the text shows the viewer a near-pornographic picture of some Texas brisket, dripping with barbecue sauce.
It may be worth including something similar in the depths of your annual report, in any sections your legal team are insistent on including. In this age of strict environmental targets, perhaps you could swap out the meat feast for something that appeals to all diets – perhaps a well-dressed verdant salad?
Many users of the Chrome web browser will be familiar with the ‘Aw, snap’ error code that displays when a web page cannot be loaded.
What many may not know is that tapping the space bar will start a cute mini videogame, where you navigate a pixelated T-Rex across an endless desert. The ‘gamification’ approach could be extended to the Q&A section of your online event in a bid to stimulate engagement by having viewers compete in a quick game of skill to win having their question answered by your C-suite.
If none of these options appeals, then going the same route as software firm Microsoft may be advisable. The firm dispensed with all Easter eggs in its products in 2002, launching in its stead a program called Trustworthy Computing to reassure its customers that it is taking everything very seriously. Avoiding a backfiring joke is commendable – as was the removal of Clippy, everyone’s least-favorite word processing companion.