retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kate McMahon

Milton Hershey would not be pleased.

The new Hershey’s logo, unveiled last week to great fanfare, was all the talk of Twitter.

For all the wrong reasons.

The streamlined Hershey’s Kiss graphic was immediately compared to an emoji (or "picture word") that, to phrase this as politely as possible, represents a steaming pile of feces.

Not exactly the connection that Hershey's was hoping to make.

Introducing the redesign, the 120-year-old chocolate giant called the new corporate logo “a fresh and modern interpretation of the beloved KISSES icon.”

The Twittersphere immediately reacted with every predictable turn of phrase, likening the new logo to the “poo emoji” and noting Hershey’s plan had “hit the fans.” Others tweeted: “Is it just me or does anyone else see a steaming turd?” and “Hershey, your new logo kinda stinks.” posted: “Sad face: Hershey's new logo literally looks like crap.”

Blame it on the wrapper, or lack thereof. The old logo was a three-dimensional silver wrapped Kiss with the paper spelling out KISSES streaming out of the top. The new logo is flat and brown with just a graphic paper stream.

(You can see the two versions, from MarketWatch, at left.)

And yes it does resemble the official “pile of poo” emoji. For those new to this terminology, “emoji” means "picture word" in Japanese. The use of such digital characters in texts and messages is showing explosive growth around the world. Some 1,500 emojis have been standardized by the Unicode Consortium, a software industry body that has 10 full members, including Google, Apple, Microsoft and Yahoo. The most frequently used emojis tracked on Twitter include the heart symbol and faces that express tearful joy, winking, or grimacing. (I’m still learning all the emojis already in my iPhone.)

According to, the emoji for “pile of poo” is described as shaped like brown soft-serve ice cream with smiling eyes -- for Apple and iOs. For Google/Android, it is a brown pile with flies circling above. In short, both are way too close to the Hershey logo.

Or as one Twitter user wrote: "The new #hershey logo looks remarkably like the poo emoji. Seems someone should have caught this earlier. “

To be honest, I never thought I’d type the phrase “pile of poo emoji” in an MNB column, yet here we are.

The big question - and the one that actually transcends this particular controversy - is whether Hershey’s logo design team should have anticipated this reaction, especially at a time when emojis are everywhere and Twitter is quick to pounce on a marketing mis-step.

The answer is yes, especially if you’re in the graphics/logo line of work and engaged in rebranding a global confectionary and snack company with $7.1 billion in revenue.

It’s not a catastrophe, or a massive recall of tainted product, but it certainly mars the introduction of a new logo to carry a storied American company forward for the next 100 years.

It’s a little late now to say, “Oh, crap.” I’m sure Milton Hershey would agree.

Comments? As always, send them to me at .

KC's View: