Five years ago, Bojangles’ introduced a new catchphrase to illustrate the cult-like following the regional chain enjoyed. “It’s Bo Time” has become synonymous with the brand, and now the advertising agency behind the slogan is hoping to recreate the magic, but this time through a more visual medium.
This month, Bojangles’ debuted its own collection of 61 emojis—called “Bomojis”—that range from menu items like biscuit sandwiches and fries to brand-specific versions of the classic Apple symbols. For example, instead of two beer mugs clinking, the Bomoji features two large cups of sweet tea toasting, while another that usually shows a woman waving has that same woman eating a drumstick with “Nom, nom, nom” text.
“Bojangles’ continues to be on the cutting edge of, not only communication, but just being top of mind with that generation of Millennials and people that communicate via their phone,” says David Oakley, creative director of Charlotte, North Carolina–based BooneOakley, which has counted Bojangles’ as a client since 2010. “Emojis are very big right now.”
Oakley says that in the short time the Bomojis have been available, the brand has seen a lot of downloads from the app store (currently Bomojis are only available for Apple iOS devices, not Android). Besides the wave of downloads, Oakley has first-hand anecdotal evidence to support Bomojis’ popularity among the target audience: His two college-age children “were flipping out” when Oakley began talking about the idea and wanted to start using the characters before the official launch.
“One of the things that works in our favor is that Bojangles’ is kind of a cult brand. It really has a following that’s rabid,” Oakley says.
He adds that as popular as the Bomojis are, personal favorites run the gamut. Oakley likes the Bo Time one, which shows the word “Bo” next to a ticking clock, but he says others love the Supreme (chicken tenderloin) dunking into sauce.
Bojangles’ is not the first quick serve to mine the emoji craze. Earlier this year, Burger King created a Chicken Fries keyboard to promote the nationwide return of the popular menu item; Taco Bell made an impassioned plea on Change.org for a taco emoji; and McDonald’s posted minimalists emoji-only billboards (much to the delight of graffiti artists).
As Oakley points out, these bigger brands do not enjoy the same exuberant allegiance as Bojangles’ does. Just as “It’s Bo Time” caught fire, Oakley is hopefully that Bomojis will follow suit.
“People are so passionate about Bojangles’. You don’t see that for McDonald’s or some of the other brands that Bojangles’ competes against,” Oakley says. “When we can connect with those same fans in something as simple as the way they communicate—via their phone—it’s just a win-win for the brand.”
By Nicole Duncan