The MTV Video Music Awards isn't like any old awards show. It's a crazy party where anything might happen! The show's tone is fun and lighthearted, and we wanted to follow suit in the way we interacted with our fans as we teased and touted the latest and greatest VMA info – like our Video Vanguard honoree reveal, performer announcements, and pushes to vote for their favorites.
We used emojis to tease our hungry VMA audience in two different ways!
For the first time ever, we cryptically revealed nominee standings! In a mysterious tweet urging users to continue voting for Best New Artist, we hinted at who was in the lead via emoji: (1. 💳🐝 2. 🚺 3. 😍💖 4. 😈&💎 5. 👭 6. ⛽). As a fun little bit of extra branding, we included a "Presented by 🌮🔔" in the tweet as a nod to the Best New Artist sponsor, Taco Bell.
In addition, we created a set of custom emojis tailored to represent each artist we were announcing. These emojis were then used within promos on air and online. Reinforcing our marketing message, we briefed fans: "What might happen at the #VMAs? 👀 We might have an answer for you tomorrow." Performing Live copy paired with a slot machine-style spin scrambled our different emoji options before slowing to reveal the one custom emoji that represented talent. For example, could that heart with clouds be a nod to the "God Is A Woman" music video? Our video reveal the following day confirmed that yes, in fact, Ariana Grande would be performing at the VMAs!
Our fans are fluent in emoji and loved that we were speaking their language! Each of our ways of teasing the audience – voting and promos – had fans buzzing, speculating, commenting and engaging with MTV and each other.
In our voting teases, fans took off in decoding what emoji hint paired with what artist, which re-invigorated fan armies to bump up or keep their favorite artist in the running (i.e. "Hayley is second LETS GOOOOO @HayleyKiyoko").
The promo videos included hidden easter eggs for our eagle-eyed fans who spied a secret Nicki Minaj emoji that was hidden within one of the videos. This drove organic buzz that Nicki would be performing at the big show before we officially broke the news.