How I organised Europeโ€™s first Emoji Spelling Beeย ๐Ÿ”ค๐Ÿ๐ŸŒ

Bronze medallist Niamh Mitchell (left) holding her emoji teddy prize. Sheโ€™s standing beside the organiser of Europeโ€™s first Emoji Spelling Bee, Keith Broni (me, in the middle, being covered by the Oxford Dictionary Word of the Yearย 2015).

On Wednesday 29th March I hosted Europeโ€™s first Emoji Spelling Bee. ๐Ÿ”ค๐Ÿ๐ŸŒ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡บ

Based upon the events organised by the group of people behind Emojicon (which you can read about here), Europeโ€™s premier foray into competitive emoji spelling saw 17 people from across the continent do battle within The Black Sheep โšซ๐Ÿ‘ bar on Capel Street in Dublin, Ireland. Ahead of this I ended up being featured across a range of Irish TV ๐Ÿ“บ and radio ๐Ÿ“ป programmes to promote this event (you can see/hear some of these here, here and here).

As per the first two contests, we had a panel of judges assessing the spellings that participants concocted for the idioms, aphorisms, parables and phrases they were presented with (the prompts). Our judges were Irish comedians Blรกithรญn de Burca and Ruth Hunter, as well as myself as the eventโ€™s organiser. Again, as per the original contest, judging was intended to be based on parsimony, whimsy and accuracy, although certain somewhat long-winded spellings did end up winning approval from the judges.

During the contest the prompts were circulated by emailing ๐Ÿ“ง each participant with a link to a Google Form (see an example here), through which the participants submitted their spellings within a strict(ish) timeframe โณ of 3 minutes. After a non-competitive demo and four qualifying rounds, we began our head-to-head quarterfinals. Those successful in the quarterfinals advanced into the semifinals and, following another head-to-head to determine our bronze medallist ๐Ÿฅ‰, we had a best-two-out-of-three contest to determine our winner. ๐Ÿฅ‡

A picture of a Google Sheets document that collected participants submissions via the Google Form. Shown above is the prompt and several answers from the fourth and final qualifying round: โ€œYes Equalityโ€.

In the end, our winner was Sean Russ from Bad Nauheim, Germany ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช. He defeated Aisling Horan from Newport, Ireland ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช 2โ€“0 in the finals to claim the title of Europeโ€™s first Emoji Champion ๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿฅ‡๐Ÿ† and the prize of a โ‚ฌ100 ๐Ÿ’ฏ๐Ÿ’ถ One4All gift voucher. As well as that, all quarterfinalists received a free burrito ๐ŸŒฏ voucher from Mexican restaurant chain Boojum and all semifinalists received a large emoji teddy featuring some somewhat creepy arms and legs. ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘ฃ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

Europeโ€™s first Emoji Champion Sean Russ (left) being presented with his โ‚ฌ100 One4All gift voucher by organiser Keithย Broni.

You can see all the answers from our spelling bee by clicking here, but please find below some of the best answers to two of theโ€œpromptsโ€ our participants were presented with.

Yes Equality:
๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿป๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿป๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿป๐Ÿ’๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘ฑ๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘ซ๐Ÿ‘ญ๐Ÿ‘ฌ๐Ÿ’‘๐Ÿ‘จโ€โค๏ธโ€๐Ÿ’‹โ€๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€โค๏ธโ€๐Ÿ’‹โ€๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿ‘ช๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ€๐Ÿ‘ฆ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ€๐Ÿ‘ฆ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿป
ย ๐Ÿ‘ฌ๐ŸŒˆ๐Ÿ‘ญ

Irish People Try American Snacks:
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‘ฑ๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘ฑ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ต๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘ถ๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ•๐ŸŸ๐Ÿ”๐Ÿซ๐Ÿฌ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ˜ท
ย ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ‘ฆโ€๐Ÿ‘ฆโžก๏ธ๐Ÿ‘…๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ ๐ŸŸ ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ’ฉ

Thanks to:

Interested in organising an Emoji Spelling Bee of your own? Hereโ€™s some tips and recommendations!

  • Itโ€™s obvious, but make sure your venue has (#1) a working projector ๐Ÿ“ฝwith a decent length cable (e.g. HDMI) and (#2) reliable wifi ๐Ÿ“ถ! We had a few issues with our wifi connectivity early in the event and, while we rose above them, they ideally should have been avoided! ๐Ÿ˜…
  • Contact local entertainment / pop culture news media ๐Ÿ“บ๐Ÿ“ป๐Ÿ“ฐabout the event via a press release. Emojis are a popular light / entertaining topic for many news sources, so itโ€™s worth a shot to see if you could get some free promotionโ€Šโ€”โ€ŠI had no expectations when I began issuing my press release, but ended up on national radio and TV! ๐Ÿ˜ฒ
  • Use Google Drive ๐Ÿ”๐Ÿš— to circulate your prompts / collect participantsโ€™ spellings. Itโ€™s easy to use and, best of all, free with a Gmail account. Email links to Google Forms the participants to submit their spellings and have your projector screen displaying the Google Sheet link to each form (make sure to HIDE the email address column so the judges wonโ€™t be biased by knowing who submitted which spelling until after theyโ€™ve made their selection). ๐Ÿ‘Œ
  • Iโ€™d recommend having a few qualifying rounds in which all resigned participants take part: this way everyone will end up at least having a couple of attempts at proposing an emoji spelling to some prompts. We had it set up that two participants would progress from each of our four qualifying rounds, leaving us with eight quarter-finalists and therefore four head-to-head quarter-finals. Of course feel free to play with the structure, but this worked well for us! ๐Ÿ“๐ŸŽฒ๐Ÿฅ‡๐Ÿฅˆ๐Ÿฅ‰
  • Another obvious one, but make your prompts relevant to the place youโ€™re hosting your event, e.g. your city or country, as well as to recent developments in the world of news ๐Ÿ“ฐ and pop culture ๐Ÿ“บ. This has been the case for all the emoji spelling bees so far, so itโ€™d be great to keep up the fun localisation that has occurred! ๐Ÿ—บ

If youโ€™ve any questions about the above, please feel free to reach out to me via keith@nudgemoji.com!