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ICONS ARE BETTER #7: THE SMILEY

We’ve all used them. 

To sign off emails. 

To cheer someone up. 

To express our overwhelming joy or enthusiasm for something. 

Just to be a bit silly. 

The Smiley has become as natural a part of our language as letters and numbers. 

It has become a universal icon in the most literal sense of the word. It is actually an icon. And it’s an icon we all recognise and use. An iconic icon, perhaps? 

The origins of the smiley can be traced back to 1962, when New York radio statio WMCA used it as part of a promotion. Listeners who answered their phone with the phrase “WMCA Good Guys!” were rewarded with a “WMCA good guys” sweatshirt that incorporated a happy face into its design. Thousands of these sweatshirts were given away. 

In the land of the internet, people started using the Smiley to mark out jokes from serious posts on online message boards. 

It has spawned countless emojis and emoticons since, which we now use on a daily basis when we text, when we WhatsApp, when we email, and when we post anything on social media. The most popular these days seems to be the ‘Face with Tears of Joy’, which has, at the last count, been used on Twitter some 630 million times. 

There’s something to :-) about. 

Ellie Beecroft – Planning Director at mcgarrybowen

Follow Ellie on Twitter @ms_beecy

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