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Despite the thousands of emojis in existence, research by Unilever's Dove found a shocking void: All of them had straight hair. So to fill the gap, and help promote Dove Quench products for women with naturally curly hair, the brand is launching the Dove Love Your Curls Emoji Keyboard.
It may be hard to see emojis addressing a significant social problem, but Unilever VP-Haircare Marketing Rob Candelino believes they can.
"When 73% of people in this country claim to use emojis every day, they're very quickly becoming the new currency of communications," Mr. Candelino said. But even though one in three women in the U.S. have naturally curly hair, they can't find emojis on keyboards that look like themselves. "We just thought that was wrong," he said.
Dove has been fighting the battle on behalf of women with curly hair since it launched the Quench line last year. Prior to that, its research found only 10% of women and around 40% of girls actually like their curly hair.
"Having curls makes them feel anxious as young as 5-years-old," Mr. Candelino said. And lacking curly-haired emojis just adds to curly-haired women and girls "feeling marginalized," he said. "We hope to help women see beauty as a source of confidence, not anxiety."
A Dove "Love Your Curls" video launched last year got 9.3 million views in one day, he said, and a free customizable "Love Your Curls" children's e-book on Amazon has had more than 150,000 downloads, all pointing to the gap in representation of girls with curls.
The curly-haired emoji keyboard developed with Snaps is available for free on the Apple App Store or Google Play. It has 27 curly hair designs with selectable skin tone and hair color that results in 131 variations, including seven animated GIFs.
Dove will partner with Twitter so that each time someone shares a #LoveYourCurls hashtag, a custom Dove Curly Emoji will auto-generate within the tweet.