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Paella-loving Spaniards want their own smiley

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Paella-loving Spaniards want their own smiley
Photo of paella: Shutterstock
16:14 CET+01:00
The hashtag #PaellaEmoji has been trending across social media after a campaign to get an emoji for the popular Spanish dish went viral.

For some a little yellow face slipped into a line of text message is sufficient to express one’s emotion. Not so in Spain, where demands for a 'paella' to join the repertoire of WhatsApp symbols have reached a crescendo.

Comedian Eugeni Alemany, a native of Valencia started the campaign after being invited to an awards night for the best paella in Spain.

"It started as a joke," he explained to The Local "I started the campaign because I was invited to the best paella in Spain awards, then La Fallera (the paella rice brand) heard about it and said they wanted to collaborate."

But of all the foods to choose, why does paella need an emoji?

"Why not?!” Alemany told The Local on Wednesday "You have the chicken leg and the shrimp tail; who the fuck sends the shrimp tail!?

"Paella is a dish that means harmony and friendship," he added. 

Alemany travelled to California himself in February to try to persuade WhatsApp, as well as other Silicon Valley companies, to make a paella emoticon.

He made a series of videos about his trip, in which he asks Americans if they have heard of paella and tries to get them to support the #PaellaEmoji campaign.

He ended up meeting Mark Davies, CEO of Unicode, a non-profit organization made up of the best and brightest from Silicon Valley’s technology companies and, most importantly, the company responsible for making new emojis.

"He told us paella had a good chance, but that people had to prove they would really use the emoji," Alemany said, "so we really decided to push for people to support the campaign."

Alemany has been calling for people across social networks to get behind the campaign; the more people tweet about it, the better the chance of a real paella emoji being made.

Spanish actor and television presenter Arturo Valls tweeted his support, saying: "Everyone with Eugeni Alemany and his #PaellaEmoji campaign, because a Sunday without paella is like a garden without flowers, or a fireman without a hose".

The campaign has been ramping up support, with LG and Valencian football team Levante Unión Deportiva pledging their support.   

Spain is a nation of WhatsApp users. According to data published last month 98 percent of smartphone users in Spain have WhatsApp, the highest percentage on the continent.

Even politicians are aware of the power of the app and are using it to attract voters.

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