Representation Matters: P&G Petitions For More Hijabi Emojis
October 26th, 2021 at 5:17 am
Women make up 70-80% of all consumer purchases worldwide but continue to be vastly under and misrepresented by the mainstream media industry. Despite being key decision makers, this disparity in representation runs even deeper across different intersectionalities, especially the hijabi community.
In partnership with P&G Rejoice, VIRTUE APAC is looking to tackle this inequality, one emoji at a time. There are more than 3000 emojis in the world, with an estimated 5 billion emojis used every day, yet there is only one hijabi emoji.
The emoji was added in 2017 after a campaign led by Rayouf Alhumedhi, who realised that although there are millions of hijabis, there wasn’t a single emoji to represent them. #SeeBeyondtheHijab continues to fight for inclusivity with a petition for an emoji pack that includes greater range of expressions and personalities for hijabis to express their individuality with confidence.
The campaign is more than a call for inclusive emojis, it represents a greater call to foster tolerance towards the global Muslim community. Through the normalisation, and eventual popularisation, of hijabi representation in mainstream media, we can move beyond stereotypes to see, recognise, and celebrate them for who they are.
We spoke to Dini Lestari, Senior Creative, Virtue APAC, and Sun Park, P&G Director of Communications, Digital Media and E-Commerce, Hair Care APAC, about #SeeBeyondtheHijab.
What was Rejoice’s motivation behind driving greater inclusivity and representation for the hijabi community?
Rejoice has always been a supporter of young women, finding ways and means to help her simplify the small dramas of her life. A bad hair day is one example and helping them navigate this, so they can focus on things that are important, is what Rejoice stands for. We stay true to this value because everyone has their own drama in life!
By engaging with Virtue and together exploring the many ways we can help our consumers, we’ve uncovered this gap. The most common form of communication our consumers use today is in the form of text messages. And the easiest and simplest way to answer someone’s text is with an emoji. It’s a form of expression that lets others know a bit of who they are.
By adding more hijab emojis into the lives of our consumers, we hope that it will help make communicating and expressing a lot easier and more meaningful – which truly is what Rejoice is all about!
What are some insights from your research into hijabi representation which informed the campaign?
What came out of our research and talking to hijabis firsthand was an important yet overlooked cultural tension: once they put on the hijab, they become defined by it. They are seen as just another hijabi and people don’t really bother to understand them on a deeper level.
This can be largely attributed to the reductive and generic narrative of the hijab that is constantly being portrayed in advertising, media and pop culture. As a brand that stands for individual self-expression and being true to oneself, Rejoice set out to change this narrative by amplifying the richness and breadth of individual hijabis to get the world to #SeeBeyondTheHijab.
The creative breakthrough came to us when we studied the native language of Gen Z – emojis. While the world gets to use 3304 emojis to express their different personalities, moods and occasions, the hijabi community only has 1. And that is not enough.
Even cats have 9 emojis to express themselves!
Why did Rejoice and VIRTUE choose emojis as the medium and anchor the petition against World Emoji Day, to connect with Gen Z audiences?
P&G Rejoice and VIRTUE created Rejoice EmojiMe – an emoji pack that effortlessly showcases hijabis’ colourful personalities & emotions so that they can be seen beyond the hijab and recognised as the beautiful unique individuals that they are.
#SeeBeyondtheHijab is a call to transcend the reductive understanding of the community, and to instead recognise the unique individuality of each and every hijabi. We hope that this will be a first step towards more inclusive representation for otherwise under/ mis-represented communities in the media.
Rejoice engages with Gen Z by connecting with what matters most to them in the most authentic way. Emoji is the most popular language globally, especially for Gen Z. By petitioning for a more inclusive hijabi set of emojis on World Emoji Day, we rally the community together and foster authenticity, rather than the top-down approach of typical branded campaigns.
As we’ve seen with Gen Z’s approach to activism, speaking up or educating others about a cause does not have to evoke a ‘doom and gloom’ tonality. The campaign adopts an upbeat, energetic and fun tonality using emojis to promote an important cause, while motivating people to take action.
What can we expect in the next phases of the campaign?
To evoke real change, we have submitted a proposal to the Unicode Consortium to include more hijab emojis on the emoji keyboard. In the meantime, we launched a set of hijab emoji stickers on GIPHY, so our hijabi community can express themselves effortlessly. These stickers can be discovered via Instagram stories or Tik Tok by searching “Rejoice Emojime”.
How can brands creatively and authentically wield data to evoke real change?
Real change happens when brands use data to guide and steer their actions, and use creativity to take a leap to land an innovative way to solve a problem, or gain an alternative perspective at spotting an opportunity.
Data provides an informed and updated view of what’s happening now, to find cultural and audience insights and understand what matters most to our audience. Creativity enables us to look ahead into the future, a leap into the what-ifs. From understanding the data, Creativity turns the insight into tangible and actionable outcomes.
This is how Rejoice and Virtue developed the campaign. From understanding our audience through the lens of culture, we uncovered a real unmet need. The creative idea of Seeing Beyond the Hijab tries to address this need in a tangible way, evoking real change.
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