Emojis emerged as a campaign trend in 2014 and, while some argue the use of smiley faces and pizza slices to express complex ideas has already jumped the shark, it became a relevant part of the current marketing lexicon in 2015. Thus, the trend warrants an end-of-the-year list featuring some of the best known and most innovative approaches to emoji marketing. These were the top ten emoji marketing efforts of the year:
1. Domino's Pizza Emoji
The pizza purveyor turned a popular emoji image, the simple pepperoni slice, into a revolutionary transactional model. Domino's told Ad Age in October that, among those using its text-to-order system, people used the pizza emoji to call in their food requests four times more often than texting the phrase "Easy Order." "This wasn't just a marketing campaign," Chief Digital Officer Dennis Maloney said then. "We're creating an ordering platform."
2. Coca-Cola's #ShareaCoke
Working in conjunction with Twitter, Coca-Cola created a custom hashtag in September that automatically generates a branded emoji recognized the world over. The brand reported #ShareaCoke was used over 170,500 times globally in the first day.
3. Taco Bell Pushes for Official Taco Emoji
Nearly 33,000 people signed a virtual petition created by Taco Bell this year, pushing for a taco to be included in the latest round of emoji characters accepted for Apple and Android operating systems by the Unicode Consortium. In July 2015, the taco got the nod, along with other foods like the burrito and hot dog. Taco Bell celebrated with a Twitter #TacoEmojiEngine that generated hundreds of taco-related images or sounds, and offered a limited edition "Doritos Locos Taco holster inspired by the taco emoji."
4. The Bud Light Fourth of July Emoji Flag
Unlike other emoji efforts in 2015, this Bud Light initiative was single tweet, but it generated tons of interest on social media. The brewer created an American flag image built from an American flag emoji, a fireworks emoji, and an emoji depicting clinking beer mugs. It was a one-day thing but got a substantial number of retweets -- 146,000 -- reminding many that drinking beer, preferably Bud Light, is a Fourth of July tradition.
🎆🎆🎆🎆🎆🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 🎆🎆🎆🎆🎆🍻🍻🍻🍻🍻🍻🍻 🎆🎆🎆🎆🎆🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 🎆🎆🎆🎆🎆🍻🍻🍻🍻🍻🍻🍻 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 🍻🍻🍻🍻🍻🍻🍻🍻🍻🍻🍻🍻 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 #4thofJuly— Bud Light (@budlight) July 4, 2014
5. BK Chicken Fries Emoji
When Burger King made its quirky Chicken Fries part of its permanent menu earlier this year, the company celebrated with the launch of a Chicken Fries emoji keyboard featuring an array of cartoon Chicken Fries boxes adorned with silly chicken faces. How else to praise the permanent addition of Chicken Fries on the BK menu but with the Tears of Joy Chicken Fries emoji?
6. Chevy Cruz Emoji Launch with Norm MacDonald
In June, Chevrolet hinted at its launch of the 2016 Chevy Cruz with a video and Twitter campaign featuring comedian Norm McDonald. "I am excited to translate an emoji announcement on behalf of Chevrolet," declared the former "Saturday Night Live" Weekend Update anchor and recent iteration of KFC's Colonel Sanders, who went on to paraphrase tiny icons that popped up on a TV screen behind him.
7. "Star Wars" Awakens the Force with Emojis
Disney and Lucasfilm worked with Twitter to develop hashtag-generating emojis to promote a movie that seemed to have reached maximum promotion already. Three emojis were designed to appear when people used the character-related tags #C3PO, #Stormtrooper or #BB8 on Twitter.com.
8. Chicago's Superdawg Helps Score Hot Dog Emoji
Like Taco Bell, lesser-known Chicago hot dog emporium Superdawg petitioned the Unicode Consortium to create an official hot dog emoji. It happened, and in true Chicago dog fashion, the hot dog icon is slathered in mustard.
9. Ford Focus Says "Let's Go" with Stickers
"Let's Go!" and "Drive Safe!" were among the messages included in Ford Motor Company's virtual sticker collection promoting Ford Focus automobiles. Created in conjunction with Swyft Media, the automaker generated 25,000 downloads of its Ford Focus digital stickers each day for 10 days in September. Those downloads led to 40,000 shares of those branded images via messaging platforms each day, totaling more than 1 million impressions, according to Swyft.
10. "SNL" Hypes 40th Anniversary with Character Emojis
The Coneheads, Debbie Downer and Matt Foley (the motivational speaker who lived in a van down by the river) are all featured in NBC's "Saturday Night Live" app, introduced to celebrate the show's 40th birthday earlier this year. Yes, Toonces the Driving Cat made an appearance, too.