Avi Schaeffer, creative manager at the Austin American-Statesman’s ad agency, Statesman Studio, was tasked with creating a new advertising campaign for Cedar Park Jewelry — and his inspiration came from a trending communication style: emoticons.

“This was when people were just getting emoticon crazy,” Schaeffer says.

At the time, there was a social media “battle” raging among NBA basketball players, all using emoji: “All of a sudden, you see people speaking in just a completely different language, that not only is recognisable, but is super intriguing and engaging,” Schaeffer says.

Likening the emoticons to hieroglyphs of centuries past, Schaeffer used emoticons and their corresponding meanings for a modern take on brand storytelling

Statesman Studio's emoticon campaign for Cedar Park Jewelry was modern, fun, and on-point with today's mobile and social media usage.
Statesman Studio's emoticon campaign for Cedar Park Jewelry was modern, fun, and on-point with today's mobile and social media usage.

The Cedar Park Jewelry campaign coincided with the United States passing laws to allow same-sex marriage. Schaeffer integrated this social change into the ads, creating three storylines.

The first, a bridal story, showed the life cycle of a couple’s courtship in a Pac-Man inspired chase.

The second, a buy-sell story, combined the symbols of a diamond graphic, equal sign, dollar sign, number four, and the letter u, translated as “Diamonds equal money for you.” 

The third was the same-sex couple story, which was up-tempo with techno music and same-sex icons. 

All three concepts were unified by an emblem of a diamond inside of a heart.

“We were basically showing that everybody loves everybody, and our diamonds are the vessel to express that,” said Schaeffer.

Visually, Schaeffer wanted to create something that would really pop: “All three of those campaigns have great graphics. They’re simple, cool, and colorful against the white background.”

The diamond-within-a-heart emblem was constant throughout all three of the emoticon ad campaigns for Cedar Park Jewelry.
The diamond-within-a-heart emblem was constant throughout all three of the emoticon ad campaigns for Cedar Park Jewelry.

While enthusiastic reception from a client is always nice, Schaeffer said the most satisfying review of the campaign came from his kids.

“Really our goal was to create something so simple a 6-year-old could understand it from a visual and conceptual standpoint," Schaeffer said, and his 4- and 6-year-old children were able to interpret the message. 

The campaign won Statesman Studio a Telly Award, which honours outstanding local, regional, and cable TV commercials and programmes.

“To have that kind of closure to the campaign was just brilliant,” Schaeffer said. “We ran the campaign for a long time and it was a great success.”