Somewhere between their first verbal grunts and experimenting with the notion of fire, Neanderthals communicated through simple paintings on cave walls. Native American civilizations used petroglyphs to share their stories, Ancient Egyptian pharaohs lined their monumental tombs with hieroglyphic tales of greatness and glimpses of the afterlife, and early Christianity used and still uses imagery in the form of stained glass windows to depict events from the Bible. In 2015, our modern civilization has its very own form of storytelling through simplistic imagery, emojis.

Those little icons included in our smartphones’ keyboards are being used for much more than just adding a little flare to text messages. Advertisers use emojis to connect with younger demos, to reach new audiences and to filter a cluttered “admosphere” through fun, easily digestible messages in icon form. In a society where audiences are on the go and constantly bombarded with advertisements, "emojis are a highly shareable language which can transcend borders in a way that will become increasingly relevant to brands."

Remember the K.I.S.S. Method? Well, there’s no better way to “Keep It Simple, Stupid” than by eliminating copy altogether and replacing it with emojis. What’s more effective, a billboard full of copy that tells a message, or a few simple icons that show an advertiser’s message? Let’s take a look at a few of the world’s top companies that are extending their brand through the use of modern man’s hieroglyphics.

McDonald’s has a history of short, simple, yet effective ad campaigns. From the 1970s’ “You deserve a break today” to the 1990s’ “Did somebody say McDonald’s?” to their current “I’m lovin it” slogans, Mickey D’s hard-hitting ad campaigns have made them a global powerhouse in the fast-food industry. For their new “Good Times” campaign, “McDonald’s has launched minimalist’ billboard ads made up entirely of emojis to get the message of the restorative powers of its meals.” After a successful trial in Paris, McDonald’s plans to launch their emoji campaign worldwide.

#ChevyGoesEmoji In an effort to get with the times and cause a buzz, Chevrolet issued an entire press release composed of nothing but emojis just before launching their new Cruz model. According to Chevrolet’s head of social media, "emoji is international in its adoption and we wanted to have fun and be irreverent with our audience.” Although this demonstration of emoji usage is anything but simple, this exciting press release showed off Chevy’s fun side while forcing consumers to engage with an icon-only piece of PR.

Chevrolet and McDonald’s aren’t the only mega-companies to adapt the use of emojis into their marketing campaigns. Using mostly millennial social networks, the airline Norwegian Air Shuttle promoted the first-ever emoji-only URL to attract younger customers who want to fly from Copenhagen to Las Vegas. The World Wildlife Federation launched a cause marketing Twitter campaign featuring 17 unique emoji’s representing 17 endangered animals.  Attempting to monetize the viral emoji campaign, the WWF encouraged users to donate a small amount of money every time users use the “endangered emojis.” Twitter users sign up for Domino’s “Easy Order” account can place an order simply by tweeting out pizza emojis. And finally, thanks to their new custom emoticon keyboard, IKEA now claims they can “reduce friction at home by letting couples communicate with each other more efficiently about things they have done, such as having vacuumed the house.”


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