Thumbs up or thumbs down to emojis?

At 84 per cent, Australia has one of the highest rates of smartphone ownership and, in recent years, we've seen the rapid increase in popularity of the beloved emoji.

Once a cute but unnecessary extra in teenage conversation, emojis are now a given in most online brand communications. Although still mostly used to engage Millennials, and sometimes met with an apathetic eye roll, they are a new visual language in which we all speak at times. What makes them so risky is that unlike traditional communication, there are no rules. Let’s take a look at a brand that nailed the integration of emojis into its campaign — and one that possibly didn’t.

Domino's Pizza Tweet and Emoji Ordering

What is it?

In 2015, Domino’s Pizza, with the help of its agency CPB Group, developed disruptive technology allowing customers to place an order through Twitter. Frequent customers needed to only use a single pizza emoji. They extended this to a texting service and on the first day more than 500 people signed up to order using the emoji.

Why does it work?

Simplicity and innovation is key on this one. Domino’s took a risk by potentially isolating a segment of its audience who didn’t have a smartphone or Twitter account. However, in doing so, Domino’s allowed for an exclusive interaction between the company and its most loyal customers. Emo-genius.

Chevrolet Cruze Press Release


What is it?

How far did you get decoding that one? We’ll let Chevrolet explain: “Words alone can’t describe the new 2016 Chevrolet Cruze, so to celebrate its upcoming reveal, the media advisory is being issued in emoji, the small emotionally expressive digital images and icons in electronic communication.” The press release was distributed a day later in plain English for those of us unwilling to decode the original, along with the hashtag #ChevyGoesEmoji.

Why doesn’t it work?

The giveaway is that if you have to explain what an emoji is, there’s a good chance your audience won’t be decoding an emoji-laden press release, much less hashtagging about it. Cue that Millennial eye roll.


In saying this, Chevrolet’s marketing team may have used this as a strategy to entice the press and create a bit of controversy around the new car, which it certainly did. I’m still not sure whether the event was seen as novel or just a bit ‘try hard’.

Emojis are clearly more than a fleeting trend and whether we love, hate, or fear them, they’re here to stay. Marketers and brands may be fumbling their way through new territory for now (we’re looking at you ESPN) but soon enough emojis will be so integrated, we won’t be able to imagine a world without them.



Hard Edge is a strategic marketing and creative agency for disruptive brands. 
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