During this year’s edition of the IPL Twenty20 cricket jamboree, Vodafone India tied up with microblogging site Twitter to create an emoji of ‘Super ZooZoo’ around its popular brand mascot ZooZoo, which complimented the overall campaign of the telecom major’s 4G service, SuperNet. Fans of ZooZoo — those white creatures with ballooned bodies and egg heads that are used to promote various value-added services of Vodafone — shared their emotions using specially designed emojis linked to two hashtags, #BeSuper and #HakkeBakke.
The campaign became so popular that in just four days of its launch, Vodafone received over 90 million impressions, dominating the category with an increase in share of voice (SOV) of 250%. SOV is an ad revenue model that focuses on weight or percentage among other advertisers.
Positive sentiments increased by 70%. “Our initiative on paid media got us an average engagement of 1.7% and also generated over 2.5 lakh completed video views during the campaign. The consumers have loved the ZooZoo emoji and have used it extensively, making our linked hashtag (#BeSuper) trend at number one nationally on Twitter for several days in the past few months,” says Siddharth Banerjee, national head, brand and consumer insights, Vodafone India. As per Twitter, the Vodafone Super ZooZoo emoji is India’s first corporate brand emoji.
Welcome to the new era of business communication, in which brands are trying to make a deeper connect with consumers by incorporating popular digital tools like emojis in their outreach campaigns.
“With visual content gaining popularity, especially among younger consumers, emojis are beginning to have a broad play across all demographics on social media platforms,” says Banerjee of Vodafone India, adding: “The ZooZoo emoji on Twitter enabled us to further engage with our target audience, especially since it was cricket time. Our partnership with Twitter and the customised brand emojis were yet another step in our ongoing endeavour to make mobile Internet more fun, smart, engaging and easy for consumers.”
As per Lakshmanan Narayan, CEO and co-founder of social media intelligence platform Unmetric, there has been a 3,333% increase in emoji use by popular brands in India in just a year. To arrive at the figure, Unmetric looked at the top 100 brands in India on Twitter based on the number of followers they had and the sector (it took around five brands from each industry to make sure the list was balanced) they were in.
In May this year, these 100 brands published a total of 25,163 proactive tweets. Proactive tweets have been defined as posts that are not retweets or replies to other tweets.
“Of these 25,163 proactive tweets, 309 tweets contained one or more emojis. Just 21 out of the 100 brands used an emoji in one of their tweets,” explains Narayan. The brands that used emojis the most were Kingfisher (90 tweets), Zoom TV (63 tweets), MTV India (50 tweets), Red Bull India (34 tweets), Maybelline India (31 tweets) and L’Oreal India (25 tweets). In May 2015, Unmetric tracked just nine tweets from the same set of brands that used an emoji. “This means there has been a 3,333% increase in emoji use in just one year,” adds Narayan.
In November last year, the Indian government became the first non-US based brand to have a Twitter emoji (#MakeInIndia), which aims to promote the country as a global manufacturing hub. Globally, emojis are not a new phenomenon. When the Beatles catalogue was made available on nine music streaming services in December last year, popular music streaming service provider Spotify provided an emoji of the band’s Abbey Road cover to people who used the hashtag #BeatlesSpotify on Twitter. Similarly, American film studio 20th Century Fox used emojis to promote the movie, Deadpool, earlier this year.
Although it may be too early to put a figure on revenue or return on investment (ROI) from emojis, they are actually serious business for social messaging apps such as Line. For instance, of Line’s annual revenue of $1.1 billion last year, $268 million came from selling stickers—larger and more expressive emojis, as per reports. “Emojis have evolved to become the world’s truly global language. Today in the online world, emojis are a universal way of expressing emotions and ideas,” says Vipul Prakash, vice-president —–beverage, PepsiCo India.
However, unlike Vodafone, Pepsico India has tried to bring the ‘online’ idea ‘offline’ to its bottles. Pepsi bottles have 38 unique emoji designs that “make them fun conversation starters”.