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A smiley, smiley face, happy face, or :) is a stylized representation of a smiling humanoid face, commonly occurring in popular culture. It is commonly represented as a yellow (many other colors are also used) circle (or sphere) with two black dots representing eyes and a black arc representing the mouth. "Smiley" is also sometimes used as a generic term for any emoticon.
The variant spelling "smilie" is not as common, but the plural form "smilies" is commonly used.
The happy face was first introduced to popular culture in 1962 when the WMCA radio station in New York ran a competition for the most popular radio show at the time, "Cousin Brucie". Listeners who answered their phone "WMCA Good Guys!" were rewarded with a "WMCA good guys" sweatshirt that incorporated a happy face into its design. Thousands of these sweatshirts were given away. The WMCA smiley was yellow with black dots as eyes, but it had a slightly crooked smile instead of a full smile, and no creases in the mouth.
In 1963, Harvey Ball, an American commercial artist, was employed by State Mutual Life Assurance Company of Worcester, Massachusetts (now known as Hanover Insurance) to create a happy face to raise the morale of the employees. Ball created the design in ten minutes and was paid $45. His rendition, with bright yellow background, dark oval eyes, full smile and creases at the sides of the mouth, was imprinted on more than fifty million buttons and was familiar around the world. The design is so simple that it is certain that similar versions were produced before 1963, but Ball’s rendition as described here became the most iconic version.
In 1967, Ball's design was used in an advertising campaign for Seattle-based University Federal Savings & Loan. This was later used when the man behind this campaign, David Stern, ran for Seattle Mayor in 1993.
In 1972, Franklin Loufrani introduced the happy face to a European audience, giving it the name "Smiley". On January 1, the "take the time to smiley" promotion was launched in the French newspaper France Soir. The Smiley logo was used to highlight all good news so people could choose to read positive and uplifting articles.
The graphic was popularized in the early 1970s by Philadelphia brothers Bernard and Murray Spain, who seized upon it in September 1970 in a campaign to sell novelty items. The two produced buttons as well as coffee mugs, t-shirts, bumper stickers and many other items emblazoned with the symbol and the phrase "Have a happy day" (devised by Gyula Bogar) which mutated into "have a nice day". Working with New York button manufacturer NG Slater, some 50 million happy face badges were produced by 1972.
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