The illustrated icons have been around since the late 1990s, when they were first created in Japan. But they’ve been steadily gaining traction across the world since 2011, when Apple included them as part of its iOS operating system, and 2015 felt like the cultural tipping point – the year emojis went mainstream.
For instance, in July Sony Animation bought the rights to make an emoji movie, while in November Oxford Dictionaries named the "crying with laughter" emoji its word of the year.
Brands have clamoured to be a part of the emoji conversation and learnt to speak to consumers in the language of the day.
Not everyone is enamoured with emojis, of course. Even Scott Fahlman, the man credited with creating emoticons (the predecessor to the emoji) in 1982 said in an interview that he thinks emojis are ugly.
If you agree with Fahlman about emojis and are waiting for the fad to pass, you could be in for a long wait. Campaign spoke to the linguist and Wall Street Journal columnist, Ben Zimmer, who pointed out that they serve a useful purpose in an age of instant communication.
"Emojis replace things like intonation and gestures to supplement the message of what we’re seeing," he said. "It’s very useful in that regard. Communicating today is not like the old days when you wrote something, mailed it and then waited a few days for them to receive it. Now it’s more like a face-to-face conversation."
So while emojis themselves may not last, it’s likely that the practice of supplementing text with icons is going nowhere.