By on February 3, 2020

Emojis have taken on a bizarre level of importance within the automotive industry. Last October, Jeep complained about how the symbol used for its name on iOS devices didn’t accurately represent the brand — and it was only a few months earlier that Ford was busy teasing the pickup emoji it had pending with the Unicode Consortium. There’s marketing potential here, and everyone wants to see it work to their benefit.

While Jeep convinced Apple to disassociate the Jeep name from the generic crossover emoji, Ford’s progress has been harder to measure. The automaker’s product communications lead, Mike Levine, tweeted the symbol’s arrival late last week, but it didn’t much resemble the emoji Ford submitted. People noticed. Instead of a simplified F-Series in blue, the Unicode Consortium opted for a red truck straight out of a children’s book.

It also didn’t escape the notice of General Motors, which quickly decided to use the opportunity to kick Ford while it was down. 

We don’t doubt Ford already got its money’s worth with the initial ad campaign (previewing the new emoji), but not getting the desired design chosen for version 13.0 has to be a little discouraging from a branding perspective. Regardless, the new symbol won’t start appearing on phones and computers until the second half of 2020.

General Motors couldn’t wait that long to start poking fun, tweeted a response (via Chevrolet) out to Levine on January 30th.

“Looks like @FordTrucks finally got the emoji they wanted. #NotOurTruckEmoji,” read the post. It was accompanied by a graphic of the new pickup emoji being hauled behind a Chevrolet Silverado that doesn’t look suspiciously like Lowly Worm’s apple car (top of the page).

In response, Levine said this effectively banned Chevrolet from using the truck emoji.

“You do realize that this tweet means you can *never* use the pickup truck emoji. Like never ever. Not tomorrow. Not next year. Not in 10 years. Never. I’m okay with this. #NotOurTruckEmoji,” he wrote in jest.

Discounting the trivial nature of whether or not a company had their emoji adopted, it’s good to see automakers egging each other on. All that bitterness is bound to encourage healthy competition; we doubt anybody is really having their feelings hurt. And the domestic pickup war is anything but cold. Manufacturers are always trying to one up each other and make a rival pickup business look stupid. It wouldn’t be the worst thing to see that spirit migrate to other segments…

Most of GM’s bashing comes via faux scientific studies designed to embarrass the competition. Unfortunately, this has its limitations. The company’s “Real People, Not Actors” campaign earned years of ridicule; GM even had a spot pulled in 2019 after rival automakers cried foul. Meanwhile, its comparison commercials frequently leave us questioning the testing methodology. The resulting material is often exceptionally dull, as well, making it feel as if you’re watching an infomercial. If you want to grab the public’s attention, give them professional wrestling, not CNN.

As for Ford’s emoji, its seems as though the company simply put the cart before the horse. This is not the icon we were promised, and it seems strange the company would even bring the issue up. Ford exposed a weak spot and GM lunged, scoring itself a point.

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