Love them or hate them, emojis are not going anywhere anytime soon because marketers just can't seem to get enough of them. Witness Pepsi, which is the latest big consumer brand to make the wordless icons the centerpiece of a campaign.
The soda brand is planning to market specially designed emoji cans and bottles in more than 100 global markets this year, including the U.S, drastically expanding a program that began last year in Russia, Canada and Thailand. The marketer calls them "PepsiMojis."
"Emojis are the language of today but no one has put them in the world like Pepsi will in 2016. With more than 70 global and locally uniquely designed emojis printed on cans, bottles and cups all over the world, you're going to be able to 'say it with a Pepsi' all through the summer of 2016," PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi said in a presentation Thursday at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York meeting in Boca Raton, Fla.
Ms. Nooyi said PepsiCo's design and innovation center designed all of the emojis -- and created copy that shows how emojis and Pepsi really come in handy. An example: When you find yourself stuck at a train station in a foreign country or at a concert where it's too loud to speak, you can use your emojis to communicate. "Our customers are very excited about this program and this will run in about 100 markets this summer," she said.
Pepsi will support the program with digital and traditional advertising, a spokeswoman confirmed. The marketer also has plans to extend the emojis beyond packaging. For instance, Pepsi has teamed up with fashion designer Jeremy Scott on a collection of PepsiMoji-inspired sunglasses, Women's Wear Daily recently reported.
A soccer-themed campaign that will run in Europe and other global markets includes soccer-inspired emojis. The campaign, called "Pepsi Blue Card," includes stars such as James Rodríguez of Real Madrid and Spanish goalkeeper great David de Gea of Manchester United.
Pepsi has also designed emojis specifically targeted for each market, such as one depicting a traditional Thai costume. The program covers the entire Pepsi trademark, including Pepsi Max and Diet Pepsi.
The emoji program comes after Coca-Cola found success with its "Share-A-Coke" packaging promotion that slapped hundreds of first names and sayings on cans. Coke launched the program in Australia in 2011 and brought it to the U.S. for the past two summers.
Emojis are of course mostly confined to the digital world. Ms. Nooyi showed a slide during her presentation stating that more than 2 billion smartphone users globally send 6 billion emojis daily. By slapping them on packaging, Pepsi is seeking to use them as a means to bridge retail marketing with digital marketing, all without words. In Canada, for instance, the Pepsi Twitter handle last year encouraged consumers to post photos of the cans and bottles to express how they are feeling.
The marketer chose Canada as a test market last year because it "is one of the few nations that has more than one official language, so this is a place we can really test the global appeal of emojis as an universal language of emotions that transcends linguistic barriers," Brad Jakeman, president of PepsiCo's global beverage group, said last year in an interview with Fast Company.
To celebrate "World Emoji Day" last year on July 17, Pepsi released a "#PepsiMoji Keyboard" that is still available on Apple's App Store and on Google Play. The program was supported with the following video: