From rock painting to emojis: the smile
Communication, both written and oral, is evolving. We have seen it from the first Phoenician alphabets in which the ideograms turned into letters. For example, the letter "A" (Aleph), written in reverse, arises from the stylized representation of the head of an ox. In this historical moment, we are witnessing the reverse process: the images are replacing the words in a preponderant way. Probably, we owe this turnaround to the fact that today's society give importance to appearance. A thesis endorsed by the success of social media. Let's start from the beginning: the smile The first universally known emoji is the "smile". Its appearance takes place in 1962, when a New York radio reproduces it on a sweatshirt to give it to listeners. The radio offers thousands of sweatshirts that reproduce an icon similar to the one we all know: yellow background with black eyes and mouth. In 1963, Harvey Ball, a professional graphic designer, hired by a insurance company, creates an icon that would lift his employees' spirits. Its design is reproduced on over 50 million pins. In 1972 the smile arrives in Europe. Franklin Loufrani looks for a new campaign for the France Soir newspaper. He brings out the idea of "marking" the news as positive or negative. In this way, readers can, through a look, choose to read the kind of news that interests him. Loufrani understands the potential success of its icon and registers the brand in over one hundred countries. But other people appreciate and exploit the commercial potential of Ball's work. In the same period Bernard and Murray Spain take possession of Ball's design and begin to produce and sell merchandising by reproducing it. Spain brothers begin to produce anything, taking advantage of the fact that the brand hasn't been registered in the United States. They record the smile mark in a slightly modified version to which the word "Have a Happy Day" has been added. In 1996 the history of the smile took a turn: Franklin Loufrani's son, Nicolas, inherited the Smiley Company from his father. Nicolas has an official style guide for the brand and closes distribution contracts all over the world. He finalize and expand the brands registered by his father all over the planet. The Smiley Company became a giant. Today it invoices over 130 million dollars a year and is among the top 100 licensee companies in the world. The history of the smile doesn't end. Registering a trademark is anything but simple. The Smiley Company is the company that most cares about the paternity of the smile. They talk about the birth, the first drawing of the WMCA is mentioned in them website, but not that of Ball. So, Franklin Loufrani is credited as creator of the modern brand. The company states that the design is so simple that it cannot be attributed to anyone. So, they show what they believe to be the first smile in history: a stone carved in 2500 BC housed in a French museum. In 1996, Walmart began to use the smile as its distinctive element in stores and on salesmen's uniforms. So, the Smiley Company that would like to register the trademark in the United States can't did it. The legal battle between Walmart and Smiley Company lasts over ten years and concludes with a secret agreement between the parties in 2007. In 2001, Charvey Ball, Harvey's son, founded the World Smile Foundation. This foundation donates its profits to charitable and charitable foundations, probably the best way to exploit the smile brand. The war for the commercial exploitation of the smile will never end. The symbol invented by Harvey Ball, first used by a radio is one of the most recognizable signs of our time. Who is the true "owner" of the Smile a this point has little importance. What we know is that the most famous yellow smile in the world will remain in our graphic language forever.