Ford's Pickup Truck Emoji Sure Looks Different

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

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. 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. 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.

Looks like @FordTrucks finally got the emoji they wanted.

— Chevy Trucks (@ChevyTrucks) January 30, 2020

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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  • -Nate -Nate on Feb 03, 2020

    Subscribed . -Nate

  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Feb 03, 2020

    Good news: With the shortened wheelbase, the new emoji should have an impressively tight turning circle. Bad news: Those mirrors are never going to work (unless they are currently stuck in the reverse 'dip' position). The ArtCenter College of Design officially frowns upon the new greenhouse. [The wheel placement on Chevy's trailer looks way wrong to me - 100% of the 'emoji' weight is forward of the front trailer axle?]

  • Ronin Let's see the actuals first, then we can decide using science.What has been the effect of auto pollution levels since the 70s when pollution control devices were first introduced? Since the 80s when they were increased?How much has auto pollution specifically been reduced since the introduction of hybrid vehicles? Of e-vehicles?We should well be able to measure the benefits by now, by category of engine. We shouldn't have to continue to just guess the benefits. And if we can't specifically and in detail measure the benefits by now, it should make a rational person wonder if there really are any real world benefits.
  • TheEndlessEnigma Simply put, I like it.
  • TheEndlessEnigma Ah GM, never stop being you. GM is working hard to make FIAT look good.
  • TheEndlessEnigma Top Gear of the 2000's was a fresh concept and very well done. Sadly to say there isn't a TV show concept that doesn't eventually exhaust fresh ideas and, as a result, begins to rehash and wear out once were fresh ideas. The show eventually becomes a pale imitation of itself, then begins to embarrass itself, it will get to a point where it jumps the shark. Top Gear began to get stale, the Clarkson, Hammond and May left and the formula failed - surprise! the presenters were part of the magic. Fast forward many years and Grand Tower is trying hard to be Top Gear but it's all very obviously scripted (it always was by felt spontaneous in its original form), Clarkson, Hammond and May are much older, tired and have become caricatures of themselves. Guys, just stop. You should have stopped 10 years ago. Now you're just screwing with your reputations and legacies.
  • FreedMike Kudos to Toyota for making a legitimately slick looking piece (particularly in metallic cherry red). But PHEVs seem like a very narrow niche to me. Yes, the concept is cool - if you play your cards right you never have to fill up with gas, and the gas engine means you don't have to worry about charging facilities - but the operative words are "if you play your cards right." And PHEVs have all the drawbacks of EVs - spotty charging availability, decreased range in cold conditions, and higher price. Personally, I'd opt for a non plug-in Prius and use the plug-in money to upgrade the trim level. It's slower, but even the base Prius performs roughly on par with a Corolla or Civic, so it's not a dog anymore. But who buys a Prius to go fast in the first place? If I wanted to "go gas free," I'd just buy a BEV. YMMV, of course.