Sunday, 8 November 2015

National emojis put a smile on Finnish faces

Finland launches images for use in digital exchanges, to promote country
The Straits Times, 7 Nov 2015

HELSINKI • Finland has rolled out images of a couple in a sauna, an old Nokia phone and a heavy metal music fan as part of its own set of national "emojis", or symbols to be used in digital communication.

Billing the use of national symbols for themed emojis as a world first, the government plans to publish the full set of 30 next month - for anyone in the world to download - on its promotional website (

"The Finland emojis were designed with a tongue-in-cheek approach, but I hope they will tell the world not only about our special features but also something about our strengths," said Ms Petra Theman, director for public diplomacy at the Foreign Ministry.

One of the first emojis to be released is called "The Headbanger" - an image of a person with arms upthrust, making a gesture commonly seen at heavy metal gigs.

It refers to the Finnish taste for headbanging heavy metal music. The text beside it reads: "It is dark in Finland and so is the music. There's a small headbanger living inside of each Finn."

Another one, of a man and a woman in a sauna, has the explanatory text: "The Sauna. Doesn't need introducing. Sauna is as Finnish as it gets. Naked."

Originally used by Japanese mobile operators, emojis have become increasingly popular following inclusions in Apple and Google smartphone operating systems.

"The emojis used especially by young people have revolutionised communications in the same way as the invention of the text message," said Ms Theman.

Nokia - also represented by one of the first emojis - was once the global handset market leader. But it failed to compete in the smartphone market, eventually selling its phone business to Microsoft last year.

Finnish netizens seemed to be enthusiastic about the launch. On the Facebook account of national broadcaster Yle, nearly 2,000 people "liked" the news and about 200 netizens shared it.

"The launch of emojis is a wonderful idea", "It is something worth celebrating", "This is Finland", commented some netizens on Twitter.

Some suggested that the negative side of Finland should also be reflected. For example, bread queues, homeless drunks and loans with high interest rates.


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