In a move less catchy than “Yes we can” and more akin to “We’ll try anything once,” the White House last week tried integrating emoji into graphics and campaign propaganda to appeal to Millennial voters.
The reaction was a bit of a frowny face. After just three days, the icons that included a graduation cap were removed from a report about millennials and the economy, as the Washington Times reported.
The White House’s latest attempt to get hip with the kids was good-natured if possibly misguided, New School University assistant professor Natalia Mehlman-Petrzela said.
“I don’t think (Obama) is trying to say, ‘Millennials don’t know how to read,’ or ‘This is the only way they can be reached,’ but I think a millennial could find this tremendously infantilizing,” Mehlman-Petrzela told the Atlantic. “One would think the White House would and does realize that the millennial generation is more than capable of reading, not just looking at cute pictures.”
Millennials responded as Mehlman-Petrzela predicted, reported the Washington Post.
“This administration genuinely seems to believe that young people can only understand policy if it’s written in terms of emojis,” Generation Opportunity spokeswoman Corie Whalen Stephens told the Post. “This clearly underestimates the intellect of my generation, which is the most creative, entrepreneurial and innovative in American history.”
The administration’s foray into emoji wasn’t the only campaign strategy the Internet found tone-deaf recently. Earlier this month, an ad from the College Republican National Committee compared the race for Florida governor to the search for the perfect wedding dress.
The ad’s target demographic? Young unmarried (but soon-to-be-married?) women.
“The Rick Scott is perfect!” one bride-to-be squeals in the ad.
As Slate’s Amanda Marcotte pointed out, the strategy of boiling demographics down to stereotypes failed because it seemed out of touch.
“Today in GOP outreach to women: You broads like wedding dresses, right?” the headline for Marcotte’s article quipped.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: ChandraMJohnson