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Marketing with Emojis: The 20 Best & Worst Emoji Marketing Campaigns


noun     |    emo-ji     |     ē-mō-jē

From Merriam-Webster 2015 Update: any of various small images, symbols, or icons used in text fields in electronic communications to express the emotional attitude of the writer, convey information succinctly, communicate a message playfully without using words.

You may see them as a key to everyday communication online or a fad that you don’t understand, but did you ever think about the emoji’s essential role for businesses in the 21st century? It’s possible that emojis are the first truly universal language: understood across seas, generations, and cognitive ability. In fact, just about everyone is using them:

emoji infographic
From AdWeek

Emoji’s are made using a universal language, unicode. Essentially, unicode is a universal language that is then “interpreted” or displayed depending on the medium or platform it is on.

emoji translations across platforms
For a breakdown of how all emojis look on each platform above, check out emojipedia.org.

usage_by_cohortYou can see how and when emojis are used every second using this emoji tracker.

As a result, most businesses have taken a swing at using emojis for everything from social media to product feedback. Here are our favorite emoji marketing campaigns (from the awesome to the awesomely bad). Scroll down to the bottom for our 10 tips for using emojis in your next marketing campaign.

Marketer's Guide to Google AdWords

20 Emoji Marketing Efforts to Learn From & Laugh At:

Twitter’s Custom Emojis

1. Coca-cola

Coca-cola is not a soft-drink company – they are a marketing company. Last Fall, Coke’s marketing team introduced the world to brand-customized emojis on Twitter.


The test campaign focused on “engagement, sentiment, adoption of the emoji and total reach” according to Twitter representatives. Though we can’t say whether these goals were met, Twitter’s continuation with sponsored emojis is a pretty good indicator:

2. Make In India – branded emojis overseas

3.  Star Wars

Let’s be honest. Do wrong, Star Wars marketing efforts couldn’t. Twitter continued their sponsored emojis for the massive release of The Force Awakens. Twitter eyes more ways to monetize their 320 million monthly active users & 1 billion unique monthly visitors.

Startwars Twitter Emojis
From Twitter Blog

Social Media Campaigns

4. BudLight

Unlike the massive emoji-centered campaigns thus far, Bud Light made a massive impact using emojis in a single tweet:

5. Domino’s Pizza

You can order a pizza by sending the pizza emoji to Domino’s. That is all. This is a fun move from the pizza giant to capitalize on the ubiquitous pizza slice emoji.

6. Taco Bell

Taco bell, along with the entire world was waiting patiently for the taco emoji. When the day came, they were ready. According to AdWeek’s Lauren Johnson, Taco Bell had 600 gifs and photos ready to go when Apple updated the emoji set for iOS 9.

7. @Pontifex

The pope’s journey to the U.S. made both general history and emoji history (not a real thing) with a social media marketing campaign following his journey through the U.S. to Philly, D.C. and NYC.

8. Hillary Clinton’s Campaign

Social Media presence and Digital Advertising was possibly the most ignored factor in deciding the 2008 election. This group of candidates have obviously caught on to the trends, but perhaps a few of the campaigns should have stayed on the proverbial whiteboard:

Video Marketing

9.  French McDonalds

No parle France, but I do speak creepy. Fluent, in fact, so I can attest that this will weird you out:

10. U.K. McDonald’s 

McDonald’s did make up job with its horrifying ad with their U.K. campaign against traffic jams:


11. ESPN

Whatever this mess was.

12. Pepsi

This is definitely a sharp cheddar on the cheesiness scale, but this video displays brand association with a love story for the modern age.

13. New Relic

Bringing one of the newest marketing trend to one of the first great marketing platforms – the billboard.


14. Marvel Entertainment’s Deadpool

Marvel tried to break the internet over Reddit and Imgur when they first unveiled this billboard in Los Angeles. Though “Skull SmilingPileofPoo L” could easily mean “SkullPoopL” or “SkullChocolateSwirlL”, this ad was either next-level cleverness or strange enough to learn more.


Custom Emoji Keyboards

15. Kim Kardashian’s Kimojis

I swore an oath to never keep up with the Kardashians, but her self-branded emoji keyboard has me: ?. At it’s peak, the $1.99 app was generating $1 million in gross income per minute, crashing Apple’s App StorePER MINUTE. DOLLARS. MILLION. THINGS I DON’T UNDERSTAND. 

From Instagram

Fail: All business’s Hopping on the DJ Khaled Train

Brands are constantly fighting for position as the most current and engaging company out there. Oftentimes, brands try a little TOO hard to connect with new audiences. In an awesome article from Digiday, Jordan Valinsky reveals all the brands trying to take advantage of DJ Khaled’s viral rise on Snapchat. Even WE couldn’t resist.

16. Wing Stop: Losers


17. Sonic: Losers

18. Uber: Losers

19. MasterCard: Loser

To which the majority of Twitter followers responded along the lines of:

20. Denny’s: Winner!

Only because DJ Kahled WANTED you to tweet about him.

(Jordan’s Consolation winner: Dad)

10 Quick Tips for Using Emojis for your Business

  1. Emojis can be your entire business model. Swyft Media builds sticker keyboards that reach “2.5 billion registered users” and turning those yellow frowns into straight cash (from Erin Griffith)
  2. :joy: is the most used emoji on Instagram
  3. Provide an easy way for customers to give feedback: Emojis have been proven to strengthen the efficiency and quality of app bug reporting, according to Usernap’s Tom Peham.
  4. Facebook is testing emoji reactions to posts and ads, walking a thin line between emotions and a potential dislike button. Read more
  5. Increase your email marketing open rate: These are the 15 most-used emojis on Mailchimpemoji-email-marketing
  6. Use emojis to add some Razzle Dazzle to your Digital Marketing with these 4 tips.
  7. Mac users can enable an emoji keyboard on their desktop in the general settings
  8. Get the emoji chrome browser extension: here
  9. Emoji’s used to be 3 characters on Twitter, but now only count as 1! #freedom
  10. July 17th is World Emoji Day!
  11. [Insert your marketing strategy in the comments!]

*Bonus: another creepy emoji picture for ya*


About the Author

Marketing and Growth Director at AdHawk. Helping business find confidence and success online, one hefty article at a time.