Emoji Friends

Bahay Tuluyan Emoji Friends

Bahay Tuluyan Foundation


The Challenge

According to a government report, the Philippines ranks second in online sexual abuse and exploitation worldwide. In fact, over 500,000 online predators target children every day, through emojis that have sexual representations–from the eggplant emoji for “penis,” to the sweat drops emoji for “orgasm.” Most parents are unaware of this, as the country also ranks first in digital illiteracy. Given the seriousness of the issue, Bahay Tuluyan, a children’s rights organization for the protection of youth against abuse, needed to educate parents and guardians about the use of emojis in online sexual abuse.

The Solution

Using social data and police reports, “Emoji Friends” was a multi-platform educational campaign that exposed the hidden meanings behind emojis, turning “cute” icons into images of abuse. The campaign launched with a film that depicted unsettling scenes showing how predators target vulnerable children.

To amplify the message, a radio ad based on an actual conversation between a predator and a child was aired. Online, a series of video reactions was posted by influencers, sharing their insights on the issue. A calendar of content was also released, educating people about how emojis are used in online sexual abuse. All materials led to a microsite where people could uncover more emojis and report cases to the police.

The Results

Earned media
Media ROI

Despite censorship rules and restrictions on social media, the campaign drove massive awareness, reinforcing safety on platforms commonly used by parents and guardians like Facebook and TikTok. “Emoji Friends” garnered 2.4M total engagement, an estimated earned media value of $13,171,700, a media ROI of 2260x, and contributed to a 160% increase in online conversations about online child abuse—with parents expressing their concern about their kids and sharing tips on keeping children safe online.

Recently, Senator Risa Hontiveros (main author of the Philippines’ Anti-Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children Law), expressed how online child abuse requires an “all of nation approach” and urged parents to be vigilant with their kids’ online activities, after heeding the warning from Bahay Tuluyan.