Smiling Face Mask Emoji

Agency Network: 
August 2020


TBWA\Dublin launched the world’s first ‘Smiling Face Mask Emoji’ and submitted a proposal to Unicode – the world standard for text and emoji – for the new creation to be added to emoji keyboards around the world.

The Covid-19 pandemic has largely changed world views on face masks. Recommendations from the World Health Organisation, as well as numerous medical studies that suggest face coverings are effective in reducing the spread of Coronavirus, have resulted in a dramatic change in global behaviour. The Centre of Disease Control and Prevention found over 76% of Americans now endorse face masks and in some countries – such as Spain and Italy – the number of people wearing coverings rose to over 80%. Latest research shows that this figure is just over 60% in Ireland.

Despite this rapid change of global behaviour, TBWA\Dublin spotted an issue in a form of communication used by the world over – the emoji keyboard. Prior to the pandemic, face masks were recognised as a sign of illness, causing unease and apprehension amongst those not wearing masks. The current face mask emoji accurately represents this sentiment – its closed eyes are visually linked to other emojis people use to express negative emotions. TBWA\Dublin’s own research using 100 Voices (the agency’s standby global panel of people prepared to give their time and views via audio notes, video responses, and Design Thinking exercises) also revealed a negative perception from audiences.

However, the perception of face coverings has changed dramatically. In response, TBWA\Dublin has created a brand new emoji to represent this. Face masks are now a sign of health, well-being, and protection. They’re a sign of safety and security – and this new emoji allows people to support a positive sentiment around face coverings.

Digital advertisement created by TBWA, Ireland for TBWA\Dublin, within the categories: Agency Self-Promo, Public Interest, NGO.

Advertising Agency: TBWA\Dublin, Ireland
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