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It’s been #Emojinal: social media PR lessons from House of Fraser’s botched campaign

If you are yet to hear about House of Fraser’s botched #EMOJINAL campaign, you have missed a good one! 

Last Monday, House of Frasier unleashed #Emojinal: a social media campaign that saw the department store attempt to hijack trending topics such as the #SagAwards and #HappyBirthdayHarryStyles with emoji-filled photoshopped images.

Visual Language – some recent history
The emoji has snowballed in popularity over the last year or so. In early 2015 the emoji was dubbed “the fastest growing form of language” by Bangor University, during a survey in which 80% of Brits claimed to use emojis regularly. However, national acceptance of the emoji was confirmed in November 2015 when this announcement was made: Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2015 is… .





Along with the rise in meme-sharing, driven by image-based platforms such as Instagram, it would seem that “visual language” is now a natural go-to for enhancing digital conversations and engagements - especially among millennials.

With this in mind, it’s not hard to understand why House of Fraser chose the social campaign it did. Combining emojis with sharable photos should be the perfect combination for engagement, right? Wrong.

Unfortunately, House of Frasier’s attempt to “connect with its younger audience” backfired horribly, leaving many of its Twitter followers baffled, and voicing this confusion publically.

Lacking in authenticity & insight
According to insiders, this is a Valentine’s Day campaign. But there are no references to brand partners, House of Fraser’s website nor Valentine’s Day itself. Quite frankly, it didn’t even sound like House of Fraser. To use the PR industry parlance, it wasn’t ‘authentic’.

So where did it go wrong for House of Frasier? 
While the creative use of visuals should be applauded – this something B2B companies are often too scared to try but could benefit from - there seems to be a lack of business strategy associated with the #EMOJINAL campaign.



A savvier House of Fraser social team would have invested time in understanding the behaviour of their audiences more holistically, designing a campaign which better reflected their audience’s needs and the brand’s tone of voice. With this insight, they should have been able to brainstorm creative ideas that could capture the imagination of the audience, deliver valuable content, and drive sales in one fell swoop. They would have also executed better influencer relations: on-boarding key influencers (bloggers, media partners, and brand partners) to maximise the reach of their social campaign and the conversation around it.

It’s suprising that such a high profile brand appears to have missed this critical step in social media PR planning.

Article written by Aisling Roberts, Account Executive at CCgroupFollow Aisling on Twitter via @aislingisabelle

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