Emojis - a vehicle for engagement campaigns

Emoticons are integral to online communication, something brands have been trying to put their name on via emoji campaigns.

Jagruti Verma
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emoji campaigns

We take a look at emoji campaigns executed by brands across FMCG, Broadcast, BFSI, Sexual Wellness, and other industries, decoding how an emoticon helped them cross barriers and create engagement while keeping it simple.

In the last few years, several brands have come up with emoji campaigns, nudging consumers to support them by signing petitions. At the core of such campaigns is the need to have a visual representation for the brand's category or a cause that's relevant to them. It goes beyond the brand's individual identity.

The biggest advantage of emojis is that they are a tool of inclusive communication that cut across geographies and demographics, with only a reasonable amount of polysemy in the mix. The fact that the brand can take credit for the initiative (and success) helps it be a lucrative enough option to put in efforts in.

The phenomenon is fuelled by the ever-increasing use of emojis in communication. There are over 3300 emojis as per the list revealed by the Unicode Consortium earlier this year. Of these 117 are ones that were added in the latest update. Such efforts reflect the importance of emojis. The option on Twitter to customise a hashtag to include an emoji against a fee adds to the value of such communication.

We take a look at emoji campaigns executed by brands across FMCG, Broadcast, BFSI, Sexual Wellness, and other industries.


Between 2014 and 2015, Taco Bell was at the forefront for getting the Unicode Consortium to approve the release of a taco emoji. They were to gather 33,000 signatures on a petition in seven months. It led to the emoji becoming a reality and being added to mobile keyboards.


Last year, when the Unicode Emoji 12.0 was announced in 2019, it included a bunch of emojis that represented interracial couples. On Tinder's part, the efforts go back to 2018 when they launched the #RepresentLove campaign. While it aimed to promote the idea of visual representation of interracial couples, the campaign also came with a quick gratification where couples could share their pictures to get their emojified versions from the brand.

Also Read: On #WorldEmojiDay brands go prolific with emoticons


Ahead of World Aids Day 2015, Durex had launched the #CondomEmoji campaign. It was an initiative by the brand to reflect on how people today communicate. While there are various ways to communicate about sex using emojis, they said there are none when it comes to safe sex. The campaign helped encourage conversations about the representation of safe sex while chatting about sex and really just communication in general.


Last year, MTV rallied youngsters to petition for a biryani emoticon. The brand felt that the dish was important enough to have its own emoji and the campaign was aimed at garnering support via petition, influencer marketing and a march involving 600 college students.


Though there are emojis depicting various vehicles, there are none that represent road safety. To make a dent in the space, ICICI Lombard took it upon themselves to promote the idea, asking people to sign a petition in the ongoing campaign. Efforts are being put to encourage youngsters to drive safely, including their conversations around driving.


In 2015, KitKat had gone big with a campaign to get their own emoji. They promoted the concept of taking a break and the various reasons people do so for. The brand was seeking support in the form of petitions, encouraging people to sign it and talk about the same online.


In 2015, WWF identified emojis that represent 17 endangered species and asked people to use them on Twitter. The motive was to raise donations for the cause and spread awareness about these animals. It was a voluntary donation campaign led by the organisation with an element of gamification as the users had to register for it. Each emoji usage amounted to a small amount of money that they could choose to donate at the end of the month. They didn't start a petition but the efforts were indeed unique.

The thread between all these campaigns is how the brands were seeking support in the form of online petitions. Twitter, especially in regards to the use of hashtag as a means to drive conversations online was key. They all came with a video asset explaining the cause, seeking participation.

While Taco and Tinder, to some extent, were successful in getting to the other side, other brands were able to use the format to create online buzz. Among the ones we came across, WWF's campaign was the most unique in terms of tangible efforts and results.

The format sure works.

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