02.02.2016 Emojinal: A social campaign too far?

A canny use of social media to connect with a younger audience, or a masterclass in how to ruin a respected brand?

That was the question many were left asking after the launch of the ‘emojinal’ campaign on House of Fraser’s twitter account.

The campaign began on Monday morning when the retailer posted a series of tweets written in emojis.

It went on to tweet images with photoshopped emojis added in, including pictures of celebrities such as Kanye West and Harry Styles.

Some of the tweets even suggested the company did not know what was happening to its account, leading some followers to suspect it had been hacked.

The so-called ‘emojinal’ campaign seemed to delight and annoy; while some House of Fraser followers enthusiastically embraced the emoji-fest, many more were turned off.

The company was variously accused of having “lost the plot” and having handed its account over to a child for the day.

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More seriously, some suggested the campaign was out of keeping for such a respected and trusted brand and would alienate its traditional customer base.

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As it turns out, House of Fraser’s Twitter account had not been hacked, nor had its password been handed to a minor.

Instead, it was part of a Valentine’s Day campaign on the back of research from Bangor University that claims 18-25 year olds find it easier to express emotions through emojis.

A spokesperson for the retailer told City AM: “We wanted to try something less traditional for Valentine’s Day this year in order to engage with a younger audience”.

A linked website gives followers the opportunity to gain in-store discounts by solving a series of emoji-related puzzles.

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We’ve written before about how brands are embracing emojis to reach out to a younger, tech-savvy audience, and warned of the potential pitfalls.

Though there was some Twitter love for House of Fraser’s campaign, we can’t help but think this one was more of a backfire thanks to the amount of ridicule it attracted.

House of Fraser is known as a premium brand that sells itself as a “luxury shopping destination”, whereas emojis are a playful form of communication embraced by younger people; the disconnect between the two is jarring.

Still, it is at least positive to see brands experimenting with different forms of communication, even if they don’t always get it right.