With the suite of 72 new emojis now upon us, how long until Sydney PR agencies follow the lead of their US peers and begin writing press releases composed entirely of emojis? Evan Hill Porteus does his best *hand-to-chin* emoji impression, while taking stock of the current situation
“Well, guys, looks like emojis are here to stay!”
How many articles have you read that kicked off with this sentence? I’ve read two (and written one), so it’s safe to assume they aren’t going anywhere.
No matter how many times my (excessively) Gen X mother asks me what “:)” means when I text it to her, emojis are set in stone not just as shorthand to express how last night’s date went but as a whole new language being adopted by Millennials upward. And if we get industry-specific for a moment, you’d be hard-pressed to find people in the Sydney PR realm who aren’t highly emoji-literate.
According to eMarketers, research conducted last year on adult Internet users in the US found that 48.9 per cent of them had used emojis through text or online. One-third of this pool had used either all or most of the emojis available at the time, highlighting the semantic development of what is quickly becoming the new language; a picture saying a thousand words. This research didn’t even include teens – the largest consumers and users of emoji content (though not by as much as you’d think, according to this research).
Many, such as the team at Bufferapp, suggest this exponential growth is a response to online environments missing crucial elements of empathy and emotion. The mysteries of modern science have discovered that when we see see a smiley emoji, it lights up the same portions of our brain that are triggered when we see a real-life human smile!
In light of this, it’s no wonder brands have been hanging 10 on the emoji wave more and more over the last year. In June 2015, Chevrolet [is there an adjective that combines ‘ambitious’ and ‘ill-advised’?] released perhaps the most curious attempt at mainstream comms of the year: The Emoji Press Release. Look, I get it Chevy, “words alone can’t describe” how great your new whip is. Unfortunately, nor could the release, though they did release a decoder shortly after and the move did attract a fair whack of (bemused) media attention. Long story short: I’m still driving Helen, my 2002 Kia Rio.
Flash forward a year, and Fusion have released an emoji news-bot for Facebook Messenger, with a focus on “creating a bot that could deliver headlines in a way that people communicate naturally with each other on text and other messaging apps”, according to Digiday.
Whether Fusion’s bot is just an example of the incoming flood of hype-riders living off the emoji road is hard to say. Regardless of Fusion’s success, it’s obvious marketers who haven’t wrapped their heads around this visual language are already far behind. I mean, even religious scripture and Moby Dick have received the emoji treatment.
If the esteemed people of Oxford Dictionaries are willing to award Word of the Year (my favourite award) to the ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ pictograph, then it’s safe to say we’re already in pretty deep.
And maybe that’s a good thing, because even though I’d rather someone kick a soccer ball emoji square into my eggplant emoji than spend four hours trying to decipher a press release, we may be entering an age where a truly universal language exists.
Kicking it over to you: what’s your take on the prevalence of emojis?
Evan Hill Porteus
Featured image: Cult of Mac
Display image: Apple