This might sound obvious, but Durex believes condoms are the key to promoting safe sex – emoji condoms, that is.
In an “open text message” to the Unicode Consortium – the non-profit organization in charge of setting the standards for emojis – the condom company said it believes giving smartphone users the option to send emoji condoms could help encourage conversations about safe sex.
“It’s clear to see we need one – it’s not rocket science. Emojis have changed how we talk about the birds and the bees,” reads a plain-English translation of the company’s message. The original version was written mostly in emojis.
Durex claims the condom – arguably the biggest symbol for promoting safe sex – will encourage smartphone users to talk about safe sex with their partners, adding that the discussion of safe sex is vital to preventing sexually transmitted diseases and infections, including HIV and AIDS.
There is no doubt that emojis have become a new part of communication since their rise to popularity in 2011.
Oxford Dictionaries caused an uproar in November when it picked an emoji – the “Face with Tears of Joy” emoji to be exact – as its 2015 “word” of the year, prompting linguistic experts from all over the world to weigh in on whether emojis had become their own language.
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“Digital communication is the sign of our times. And emoji functions extremely well in that medium, often in language-like ways. And for this reason, it is surely not a stretch to consider an emoji to be, if not a word in the conventional sense, at the very least, having language-like properties,” wrote Vyvyan Evans, professor of linguistics at Bangor University in a blog post for Oxford Dictionaries.
Social media strategist Brent Stirling with Ryerson University’s business incubator DMZ added, “As more and more communication and interaction between people turns digital, emojis fill the gap that text cannot. This allows people to communicate their tone, body language and facial expressions that would normally accompany an in-person conversation.”
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Or perhaps, as Durex hopes, allow people to bring up uncomfortable topics like contraception.
And while a condom emoji may inspire a bit of giggling from some users, let’s not forget that campaigns like this have worked in the past.
The taco emoji was a product of an online petition started by Taco Bell that garnered over 32,000 signatures by the time the new symbol was released.
Emojis featuring a variety of skin tones on Apple’s iOS platform were also created in response to calls for more racial diversity in the beloved emojis.
However, whether the condom emoji could actually help promote safe sex and cut down on the transmission of STDs is unclear.