Utopians once hoped for the rise of a proposed global language called Esperanza. Instead we got English. But now Chevrolet is making a bid to turn emojis into the universal tongue of a digital age. OK, General Motors’ mainstream brand isn’t trying to be quite that ambitious. But Chevy is trying to generate some buzz for Wednesday’s launch of its all-new Chevrolet Cruze, the crucial second version of the compact car that set GM back on its road to recovery when the first version was introduced in 2008.
Chevy’s public relations and social media teams are having fun today after issuing a press release written completely in emoji. Using the hashtag #ChevyGoesEmoji, it gives clues to the 2016 Cruze reveal this week. Chevrolet is hoping that emoji-loving millennials on the social and mobile web will take a break to crack the emoji code and figure out what, exactly, it’s all about.
Playing along with the social sleuths: Norm Macdonald, the Twitter-loving comic and Saturday Night Live alum. In one of his most recent stints, as the befuddled uncle on The Middle, he plays a boomer who remains clueless (at least on TV) about the latest in digital technology—and just about everything else.
Which is why Macdonald is the perfect foil for a trio of millennial celebs with attitude in the YouTube video that Chevy released to kick off Emoji Academy. McDonald is enrolling so he can figure out what the heck Chevy’s emoji-happy new campaign is all about.
He walks into a classroom where a trio of celeb instructors are introduced with their signature emoji—Ashley Benson, Jamie Chung and Zendaya. Their goal: to teach Macdonald (and us) the Way of the Emoji, as you can watch below.
brandchannel talked with Jamie Barbour, digital and social insight advertising manager for Chevrolet US, about the unique emoji teaser campaign (hint: a look at the footnotes reveals it will have Onstar, 4GLTE, Apple Carplay and Android) for the big Chevy Cruze reveal this week.
bc: Jamie, why go the cryptic emoji code route to drum up interest in the new Cruze?
Barbour: Cruz is our best-selling car around the world, with 3.5 million sold since it went on sale in 2008. So to leverage the reveal of the Cruze, because it’s global, we wanted to speak in a true global language: emoji. We can express identity and affinity with our customers using it.
It came out of a brainstorming session we had with our advertising and communications people and our social-media agencies, and it came as we discussed the target for the new Cruze. It’s not just an American millennial target but global as well. So we said, “What about an emoji press release?” It was one of those thing where we weren’t really sure it was going to happen.
bc: So beyond dropping hints, you’re not revealing what the emoji press release for the new Cruze means just yet?
Barbour: It’s more of a media alert, building awareness about what is going to take place this week. We’ll have a decoder on the GM media site at 2 p.m. [Eastern] on Tuesday.
bc: A lot of brands have been using emoji, of course, but not to this extent. Was there any precedent you found, by other brands, to this?
Barbour: None. This is a first of its kind, especially when it comes to a press release. We’re aware of the purpose of a press release and a media alert. So we felt we had license to be a little irreverent and fun, to challenge the media and [others] to translate it. And some have been creative so far.
bc: Has anybody guessed it correctly so far?
Barbour: Some have, especially in the millennial audience. People are catching on. It’s a fun way to get people to interact with what’s going to happen this week.
bc: So what’s the importance of the 2016 Cruze to Chevy overall?
Barbour: It’s all-new, and it’ll be an exciting reveal [of the car] on the 24th. Technology is one of the places that we think Cruze sill have momentum in the marketplace. It offers 4G LTE WiFi, Apple Car Play and Android Auto.
The compact segment is so hypercompetitive, but we feel strong in the marketplace. Cruze is our best-selling vehicle across the globe. We know that our customers are demanding more performance and more innovation and better fuel economy, and this car will absolutely deliver and really shake up the segment.