Ford Teasing Probable Pickup Emoji [Updated: It's Real]

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Ford was teasing a new pickup truck on Tuesday. No, it’s not the Bronco-based one we mentioned earlier in the day. This one is small, really small.

According to Ford’s product communications manager, Mike Levine, more details on this in-development vehicle will emerge later this week. But we already know what it is — an emoji.

While the finer details of Ford’s promotional video abandon any semblance of surprise, I also happened to recall that a pickup emoji had been made a candidate for inclusion in Unicode 13.0. The existing draft version of the icon is scheduled for release in 2020. Think of that as the graphic’s production date.

Branded emojis have been appearing on various platforms over the last few years, often as part of million-dollar deals. Marketers have also started taking an interest in measuring their usage, as the data could be a useful advertising tool.

Ford cannot brand the word truck anymore than Coca-Cola can brand the word soda. However, with more people using modern-day hieroglyphics than ever before, it might pay to ensure that the soda bottle emoji looks like a Coke and the one for pickups resembles an F-150 or Ranger.

While Unicode 13.0 is slated to arrive until next year. Apple’s iOS 13 software is currently in public beta and might have a special sticker emoji set aside for Ford on the horizon. Obviously, we’ll get the full details once Ford makes a legitimate announcement. But we can’t see it being anything other than this.

We’re not going to bash this like we’ve done to so many of Ford’s more-goofy mobility projects. It’s a shrewd marketing idea. But there is something kind of unsettling about companies taking ownership of the objects we’ve started using in place of real words. We’ll wait to see how it’s implemented before throwing any fits though.

This may turn out to be a platform-specific sticker and not a ubiquitous Unicode Standard character. However, since Ford used the crossed fingers and the term “hopefully” in the promo materials, that suggests it’s not up to them — possibly meaning its up for review with the Unicode Consortium.

Some super cool truck news coming this week. Will meet a huge unmet need.

— Mike Levine (@mrlevine) July 16, 2019

Update 7/17/2019: Looks like we predicted correctly. This morning, Ford made an announcement that its design had been shortlisted as a candidate for the new pickup emoji by the Unicode Consortium. The release was loaded with puns and framed the icon as undergoing real vehicle development.

“Our team spent a lot of time digging through message boards, texting influencers and watching social media feeds to really understand our customers’ needs,” said Craig Metros, Ford North America design director. “People want a truck emoji that’s fresh, stylish, carries their ideas, and ‘tows’ the line on what a truck means. The end result is a modern icon that should give all truck fans a smiley face emoji.”

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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