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Toyota pairs football and emojis for deep fan connection

Toyota is sponsoring an emoji keyboard for football fans to share with friends on messaging and social media applications, bringing a sports angle to marketers' growing efforts to leverage an icon-based shorthand for engaging mobile users. 

The automaker has launched what it has named a ?FanMoji? app in which users can share football-related icons and stickers with each other through various platforms. Toyota is jumping in on the content frenzy surrounding football season, as it one of the most popular subjects during the fall, in an attempt to connect with consumers.

"Toyota decided to create a custom keyboard of hyper-specific sports emojis," said Florence Drakton, Manager, social media strategy and operations at Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. "Dedicated sports fans go the extra mile for the rush of the sport, so Toyota found a socio-cultural, relevant way to allow fans to own the sports conversation and visually express the rush they are feeling during peak emotional moments of the game."

Football fandom
While emoji keyboards are a buzzword in marketing right now, so is football for consumers. As it is still relatively early on in the football season, consumers are buzzing about their favorite teams and fantasy leagues.

Toyota is giving them a unique method in communicating with peers regarding football with its emoji keyboard, which steps away from overly branded stickers and focuses on serving content fans are more likely to want to use. The keyboard provides users with an array of emoticons related to the sport, such as the letter D next to a symbol of a fence signifying ?defense,? an image of a fan crying and a football on fire in midair.

The idea behind the platform is to allow brands to have fun while discussing the sport on social media and in messaging apps such as iMessage, Kik and Whatsapp. While the content is not pushing Toyota advertising on users, it still brings the presence of the brand into the app, making consumers aware of the brand and its values without becoming intrusive.

Consumers must download the Football FanMoji app to their mobile devices, and install the keyboard through their settings. From there, users can share the icons on almost any platform when a keyboard is used. 

The app is available for iOS and Android, to ensure a wide audience. Users can also share the emojis directly through the app via social media integration.

The emoji keyboard is a part of Toyota?s new campaign focusing on sports and fan?s enthusiasms for the teams they love, and will feature four new television spots throughout the month.

Toyota motors through mobile
Toyota was also the first advertising partner to open its doors to branding initiatives and original Web series development as part of AOL On and NBCUniversal?s new partnership, which will further AOL?s digitization goals by rolling out premium content across a slew of mobile platforms (see more).

While some automakers have taken an experiential approach to mobile, Toyota?s recent partnership with Alliance Data suggests there may be a growing opportunity to leverage mobile to integrate loyalty, offers and cars? diagnostic systems (see more).

"FanMojis is an integrated part of Toyota?s broader For the Rush of Sport campaign," Ms. said. "The campaign includes multiple broadcast spots, currently airing, that show the dedication of true sports fans going places such as Let?s go Overtime, Let?s go Nosebleeds, Let?s go superstitions and Let's let Toyota take us there.

"Whether it is a soul-crushing defeat, to revel in the glory of a great play, or complain about the refs, the FanMoji appprovides fans with a tool that helps illustrate social discussions in an exciting way," she said. "The campaign also aims to unify Toyota?s sports properties and partnerships."

Final take
Brielle Jaekel is editorial assistant at Mobile Marketer