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It took actor Dwayne Johnson, more than three years and a team of designers and social media managers at Ford to bring its latest design to life.
But the automaker finally unveiled Wednesday the pickup truck in 2016. It's not its best-selling F-150 or even the popular Ranger.
It's an emoji.
"Ladies and gentlemen, the moment you've all been waiting for, the truck emoji," Joe Hinrichs, president of automotive operations for Ford, says in a video narrated by actor Bryan Cranston that reveals the design.
The blue pixelated pickup is on a short-list of candidates for new emojis awaiting approval for use in 2020 that's reviewed by the Unicode Consortium, Ford announced Wednesday, which happened to be world emoji day. The group regulates the unicode characters so they can be recognized across different devices and platforms across the industry.
Unicode Consortium board member Greg Welch said "they can't discuss a specific emoji proposal beyond confirming that the pickup truck is a current candidate under consideration."
If approved, the pickup truck would join other Unicode 13.0 entries such as a tamale, a dodo bird, and a smiling face with a tear. The latest update to the list will be released early next year, and Ford said it's confident the pickup emoji should make it to keyboards everywhere in early 2020.
"It all dawned on us when we were sitting in a room one day 'jeez there really is no pickup truck emoji how could that be?' Transportation in general is like 12 different trains and no pickup truck emoji," said Eric Grenier, Ford's social media manager. It's a surprising thing to realize, especially when 5 billion emoji's are sent everyday on Facebook messenger alone.
The pickup truck emoji unsurprisingly looks like a Ford. The design is modeled after a midsize pickup truck reminiscent of the Ford Ranger with forward tilting lights that echo styling seen on older F-150s. The most Ford aspect of the design though is the color — Ford Blue. They're touches that didn't happen by coincidence.
"There are some design elements like that chamfered belt line it was obviously F-150 that's what we're going to submit — We're Ford, but we all understand that it is up to all of the platforms to ultimately decide what that thing is going to look like," said Grenier.
Getting an emoji certified is a fairly straightforward, but long, process. Designs are pitched to the Unicode consortium based on their compatibility, expected usage level, image distinctiveness, completeness and how often they've been requested. The consortium then evaluates the proposal and either decides to approve or send the emoji back for tweaks. The whole process takes about two years from design to phone keyboard.
The proposal submitted by Ford doesn't mention the company by name at all and raises some concern about corporate influence in what's supposed to be uniform international standards in software development, "The Atlantic " reported, noting that the consortium wasn't aware of Ford's involvement. Other's emoji's submitted to the consortium with corporate backing include a condom emoji by Durex and a KitKat emoji from Nestle.
Ford isn't ruling out other emoji ventures either, Grenier mentioned that the team discovered there was no emoji for a convertible car while working on their pickup truck design.