Old Navy: Emoodji

Campaign Summary

Old Navy’s $1 flip-flop sale was not going to be supported with a TV campaign in 2015, so the brand needed to use social and mobile as the primary marketing vehicles for the promotion. Old Navy’s team developed a mobile approach in partnership with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The end result, Emoodji, was a combination of emoji fun and a personality quiz. Emoodji analyzed the emojis people had used recently on social media and developed a customized mood board that told people about themselves. The mobile site then organically led customers back to the product by suggesting flip-flops to go with their moods. The 19-day campaign had unprecedented success.


Objective and Context:

From a branding perspective, the idea was to bring out the fun of summer and beach holidays to everyone wherever they were. Flip-flops were an obvious emblem of the season, but Old Navy wanted to do more than just give them away. So the brand thought about cultural touchpoints that shared the same essence of fun and could signify a summer mood. The business objective was to raise awareness of the sale. The mobile and social team needed to create an innovative, scalable product with viral reach, raise awareness in the target demographic, and drive traffic to the website. Key performance metrics included impressions, unique visits to the site, unique contest entries, social shares, dwell time, click-through-rate to the site, most-used emoji heat maps, and engagement rates on owned and partner content.

Target Audience:

The intended target audience for Emoodji was twofold. The primary audience was women ages 18 to 29, and the secondary audience was women ages 25 to 35. The primary target mostly shops for herself, whereas the secondary audience is splitting her shopping between herself and her family. About half of each audience segment is made up of mothers. Both target audiences are tech-savvy, spending a minimum of five hours per week on the Internet via desktop, laptop, or mobile and an additional five or more hours per week on social networking websites or apps.

Creative Strategy:

Old Navy's insight was that emojis are now part of the cultural zeitgeist. People use emojis all of the time; 74 percent of Americans use them to communicate. They're more widely used than hyphens. President Obama uses them in White House videos, Moby Dick has been translated into emoji, and the emoji-based video for Beyoncé became a popular meme. Emojis communicate so much about mood and personality, but no one had ever built a tool that let people see what the emojis they use say about them. Old Navy worked with Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and its agency DeepLocal to make this happen.


Overall Campaign Execution:

Old Navy’s Emoodji calculator scraped people’s recent Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook posts to tell them which emojis they use the most. Emoodji then paired the most-used emoji with a beach destination and a pair of flip-flops to take the person there. These three elements created a customized summer mood board. What was so sticky about the tool was not that people could see which emojis they, their friends, or even their favorite celebrities used the most, but figuring out what it all meant. The tool showed people their recent mood, what they’d been interested in, and what made them laugh.

The creative approach for Emoodji fulfilled the overarching seasonal brand concept of “Let There Be Summer.” The tiki hut design was the perfect backdrop to holiday dreaming, connecting the dots between the seasonal concept and the beach getaway and flip-flop prizes offered through the Emoodji experience. The overall design aesthetic was optimistic, engaging, and colorful to keep with the spirit of Old Navy.

Old Navy organized its media strategy across three segments: paid social (driving awareness and engagement across social platforms), social influencers (to amplify the experience and drive participation), and publishers (driving awareness and excitement of Emoodji outside of social). Old Navy devoted some budget to promote Emoodji on launch day, but a large portion of the budget was reserved for reactive media investment. The brand optimized content performance by promoting in real time as organic performance increased or traffic to the mobile site began to plateau.

Mobile Execution:

The entire campaign was built around mobile, given Old Navy consumers’ behavior and the fact that social sharing is easier through mobile. The technology behind Emoodji leveraged data that already existed by tapping into each social platform’s APIs. Because promotional details were different for the U.S. and Canada, the brand redirected users to the appropriate information using their IP address. There was also a version for French users in Quebec.

The technology behind Emoodji was the hook for the campaign. By tapping into two cultural phenomena (emojis and personality quizzes), Old Navy connected with consumers in a non-commercial way first, ultimately funneling them back to the product. The technology allowed the brand to personalize the experience for each individual by assigning product recommendations to each person’s unique results. The majority of the budget (60 percent) was allocated to mobile because the target was known to prefer mobile to desktop, and Instagram users were able to engage more easily via mobile.

Results (including context, evaluation, and market impact)

This is the first year for Emoodji, and it exceeded all expectations in the 19 days it was live. In the past year, Old Navy has run three contest-oriented campaigns, and consumer participation for Emoodji exceeded all three by a wide margin with 83,845 unique contest entries. Traffic to Emoodji.com exceeded expectations by 21.3 percent, with 212,338 unique visits. The click-through rate to OldNavy.com was another major KPI, given that this campaign was to raise awareness for the $1 flip-flop sale. For the apparel industry, average CTR from banner ads to online shopping destinations is about 0.07 percent, whereas Emoodji saw a 5.6 percent CTR to oldnavy.com. Other metrics also surpassed expectations.

  • CTR to social share buttons: 35.9 percent (average)
  • Average time spent on site: 2:23
  • Impressions: 374 million
  • Engagements: one million
  • Facebook Engagement Rate: 187 percent above benchmark
  • Twitter Engagement Rate: 13 percent above benchmark

The success of Emoodji demonstrates that coupling the right cultural insight with the right technology can deliver against both branding and commercial goals with this target audience.

Categories: | Industries: | Objectives: Mobile Social, Mobile Website | Awards: Finalist