This week’s featured article


Everyone speaks emoji, and now advertisers do too.

Catching on to the digital era’s cross-cultural language of choice, advertisers have learned to speak emoji in a world where promotional videos are ignored and online ad banners are blocked.

Tiny digital pizza and French fries icons, and pictures of animals and planes are being used to advertise fast food, airlines and even NGOs.

Emoji characters have become at least as pervasive as smartphones, and users are moving away from communication platforms that allow advertising toward networks that don’t, said Marie Dolle, a digital media content specialist at Kantar Media.

In their online advertising campaigns, the World Wildlife Fund charity and Domino’s Pizza have tapped into the bank of emoji icons universally approved by the Unicode Consortium, the nonprofit group that develops and maintains digital standards.

In May, McDonald’s — a pioneer in emoji advertising — launched its own digital stickers package that allows users to place pictures of Big Macs, sundaes and chicken nuggets into their WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or text messages.

Disney and Duracell have commissioned Feeligo, a Paris-based startup, to create their brand stickers. Last winter, Duracell’s iconic pink bunny was shared 20 million times alone.

Swedish low-cost homeware giant Ikea also launched an emoji range depicting its products earlier this year, from furniture to the meatballs sold in its cafeterias.

Emoji advertising is just as much about communication and having a sense of humor as it is about branding.

The latest advertising trend is mainly logo-free, giving emoji users on both ends of the chat more freedom.

“Users are saturated with publicity,” Dolle said, adding that many people use free software that blocks pop-up advertising to keep their screens uncluttered by ad banners and videos.

Emoji are “less aggressive, it’s not intrusive. We give them playful tools that they can choose whether or not to use. This contributes to making people love the brand and share it in their conversations,” she added.

First published in The Japan Times on Aug. 10.

Warm up

One-minute chat about advertisements.


Collect words related to communication, e.g., talk, smartphone.

New words

1) pervasive: spread throughout; e.g., “The fashion is pervasive among teenagers.”

2) saturate: soaked or filled to the maximum; e.g., “Thanks to that storm, my clothes are saturated.”

3) unclutter: free of disorganized stuff; e.g., “I like to work at an uncluttered desk.”

Guess the headline

Smile! Brands banking on e_ _ _ _ ad_ _ _ _ _ _ing


1) What advantages does emoji advertising have over other ways to promote brands?

2) What would be the platform for these new advertisements?

3) What is important for a brand hoping to attract emoji users?

Let’s discuss the article

1) How often do you use emoji when you send messages?

2) What is important to you when you choose which emoji to use?

3) Would using a brand’s emoji change your image of that brand?



日々のコミュニケーションはその形を変えながら情報伝達だけでなくユー モアセンスや流行への感度を披露する場にもなり、絵文字やスタンプ文化を生み出しました。 そこを商機ととらえた新たなビジネスも生まれ、絵文字販売で桁違いの金額を稼ぐ新たな職業も登場しています。 企業もその流れに乗らないわけにはいきません。しかし、ここでお金を稼ごうとするのはナンセンスなようです。 消費者の日常の中にごく自然に入り込むことで、ブランドを身近に感じてもらい商品の購買に繋げる、企業にとって絵文字やスタンプはコマーシャルツールです。



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