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NOTEBOOK – ONE GOOD READ: The story behind the smiley face


Ever wonder how the smiley face  that amber-colored circle with two black marks for eyes and an arced line for a mouth  came to be? Two men apparently had the same idea  one in 1963 and the other in 1971, writes Zachary Crockett for the Hustle. Harvey Ball, a freelance artist from Worcester, Mass., produced the iconic smiley face in 1963 for an insurance company whose employees were out of sorts about a merger. “Ball’s iteration … struck a chord, ushering the smiley into mainstream American culture,” writes Crockett. Ball made a misstep, however. He never filed a trademark. A few years later, across the ocean, journalist Franklin Loufrani of Paris was fed up with all of the negative news and decided to alert readers of positive articles. “His creation, a smiling yellow face, bore a striking resemblance to Ball’s,” writes Crockett. Loufrani, unlike Ball, obtained a French trademark, which allowed him to enter into lucrative licensing partnerships. The smiley face wound up on a variety of products including candy and T-shirts promoting the use of acid. Eventually, Loufrani handed over the licensing operation to his son Nicolas, who formed the Smiley Co. and secured trademarks for the “smiley” brand name in 100 countries, writes Crockett. Nicolas created new smiley faces  ones that winked, frowned, cried and laughed. “Under The Smiley Company brand, [Nicolas] launched SmileyWorld  a universe containing all of his new creations  and licensed them to mobile companies like Nokia and Samsung,” writes Crockett. “In 2001, The Smiley Company’s slogan became ‘The birth of a new universal language.’”

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