Creative Lead / Art Direction / Emoticon Design for IncrediBull agency
This was a designer’s dream: transforming Marvel’s iconic Captain America characters into cheeky Skype emoticons used by millions. And it was the first time Skype had ever created new emoticons for a promotional campaign. Grab your shield!
These animated heroes formed part of the ‘We Salute You’ project promoting Skype’s partnership with Marvel for the launch of the sequel Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and were created to draw attention to the partnership, encourage Skype use and attract users to the campaign website.
Working closely with Marvel and Skype, I designed the look of the emoticons, as well as created the storyboards for each emoticon animation, which had to be clear at a variety of sizes, including 20×20 pixels in the Skype client itself.
The chosen characters were the Cap himself, Colonel Nick Fury, the Black Widow and the mysterious Winter Soldier. After the Skype emoticons were designed, and the storyboards were created, they were animated by the very talented Julian Frost, of ‘Dumb Ways to Die’ fame.
To generate traffic to the campaign website, we locked the fifth emoticon that could only be released via a series of clues on the site. When completed, the secret emoticon showing Cap deflecting bullets with his iconic shield appeared, along with the code word to use it in a Skype chat.
Once finalised, print vector versions were created and they were rolled across avatar downloads, social posts, digital banners promoting the website and limited edition merchandise to hand out at the LA premiere and at special preview screenings.
The launch of the emoticons across various Skype application releases generated huge global interest across social media, with articles in Wired, Digital Spy, Pocket Lint, Übergizmo andTechradar among others. The wired.com exclusive saw increased traffic to the campaign site, with up to 5 clicks per second after the article went live.
The emoticons also became part of the sell-in for Skype’s new XBox client, adding to the social buzz, culminating in 18.9 million social impressions. We also created social posts for Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, as well as adding GIFs of the animations to GIPHY.com in order to help people spread the word. The reaction was overwhelmingly positive across earned articles, with reporters excited about the collaboration and the challenge to unlock the hidden emoticon. Twitter impressions hit 15.2 million, with Marvel fans spreading the word, as well as global tech sites keen to report on the new addition to Skype.
Overall, the Captain America emoticons gained 47.8 million impressions online (across the web challenge, blog, PR, media, and social), with 29 times the average Skype blog traffic for their piece covering the emoticons.
In the words of @irishchauffeurs, “Captain America themed Skype emoticons were probably the reason I was brought into this universe” : )
My favourite comment came from Hoppus, Mayor of Awesomeville (obviously): "Aren't these Skype emoticons super dopesauce". Couldn't agree more.
With thanks to Tom Edwards & Ginnie Le Mestre from IncrediBull, Julian Frost (animation) and the Skype team