How Domino’s and Dunkin’ Donuts Are Using Emojis to Reach Gen Z

Posted by: Jeff Fromm

While perhaps surprising, emojis – a favorite of Gen Z – have been around for nearly 20 years. Shigetaka Kurita invented them in 1998 while working for DoCoMo, a large Japanese mobile communication company. His idea was to create a way for users to send pictures back and forth without using too much data. Simply, to create a one character “code” that would be displayed as an image or icon on the other device.

Fast forward to today; emojis are being sent at a rate of more than six billion per day! In 2015, emoji was Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year for its popularity and extensive usage. From checking your Facebook feed, to scrolling through texts on your phone, to advertisements across channels – emojis are everywhere.

If you don’t yet see how this matters to marketing, consider this: 84 percent of all marketing communication is expected to be visual by this year, according to Cisco Systems, Inc. This isn’t limited to a particular medium, either. It will be across newspapers, emails, websites, social media and more. Graphics are not only simple and span language barriers with ease, they also offer a heightened level of creativity.

Yet, as emojis are in nature made to hold different meanings, it’s important for brands to tread lightly. Emojis are not always the best approach for every company or every public figure as it may come across as inauthentic or as “trying too hard” – consider the Hillary Clinton Twitter student debt faux pas.

But if you need inspiration, Domino’s and Dunkin’ Donuts are two brands using emojis the right way. It’s clear that these companies understand the Youth Mindsets. Let’s take a look into their campaigns:

Who: Domino’s Pizza

What: The brand created a permanent feature allowing customers to place pizza orders by simply tweeting the pizza emoji at Domino’s.

How: The campaign works by accessing consumers’ Easy Order profile once they register their Twitter handle on Domino’s website. Once Domino’s receives the tweet, the customer receives a confirmation message for the order, and the pizza is made and sent to his or her home.

Impact: The pizza chain turned a mundane activity – ordering pizza – into something novel and innovative. Since Domino’s already receives half of its business through online orders, the option to “tweet a pizza” makes it even more convenient for those inclined to order digitally. The campaign received significant media coverage and won the Cannes Titanium Grand Prix for most breakthrough idea of the year in 2016.


Who: Dunkin’ Donuts

What: Dunkin’ Donuts became the first national coffee chain to allow gifting and payment within Apple’s iMessage.

How: Customers can send the gift of coffee more easily than ever using ApplePay on the Dunkin’ Donuts app. The app also boasted its own set of original Dunkin’ Donuts stickers that can be downloaded from Apple’s App Store. Fans can also create virtual greeting cards with their iMessage Card Builder.

Impact: By embracing iMessage, Dunkin’ Donuts committed to making its brand as accessible as possible. Apple Pay, already a popular in-store option, enabled customers to pay securely via mobile, while the stickers provided a new way for users to interact with the brand.

Want more on Gen Z? Get your copy of Jeff Fromm & Angie Read’s new book, Marketing to Gen Z, here!

About Jeff Fromm

Although not a Millennial as defined by his age, Jeff Fromm is the Millennial Marketing Guy. Jeff is President of FutureCast, a marketing consultancy that specializes in Millennial trends, and is a contributing writer at...See Jeff's full bio.