Once you know that Ford bankrolled the campaign to create a pickup truck emoji, even the original proposal sounds suspect. The introduction to the document reads, “It is time for our global visual language to get a little bit tougher, with a brand new pickup truck emoji.” Emphasis sponsored by Ford.


None of this should be terribly shocking. As emoji have become a more integral part of how we communicate, brands have been dying to dominate up our attention with the cutesy symbols. Back in 2015, Durex petitioned the Unicode Consortium to release a condom emoji and built an ad campaign around the idea. Taco Bell rallied around a taco emoji the same year, and KitKat did the same for its candy bar. The big difference between those campaigns and Ford’s, of course, is that those brands sent out press releases and disclosed their involvement to the Unicode Consortium. As far as we know, Ford did not.

There’s a chance the pickup truck emoji won’t happen. That would be a shame for people, like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who loves pickup trucks and has been asking for a pickup truck emoji for years. (Ford’s hired hand even points to The Rock’s tweets about the issue in the official Unicode proposal.) But it also seems like it was only a matter of time before brands stole the innocence from emoji. Nothing is sacred in the 21st century, not even our smartphone fun.