Angry Birds maker unveils wave of tie-ups

Rovio has announced a swathe of new brand partners for its Angry Birds franchise as part of its mission to transform from being a start-up games company to a globally recognised entertainment business.

Major brands including Mondelez, Penguin Books and Puma are among the new global licensees, while previous partners such as Hasbro have renewed their partnership agreements.

In the UK, Tigerprint will create a range of greetings cards and gift wrap available at Marks & Spencer, BIP will create Angry Birds-themed confectionery, Brandon will develop bags and luggage, Blueprint will develop a range of stationery and Fashion UK and Leomil will develop clothing lines.

Mondelez and Penguin will become partners in Argentina, while Hatber and Alisa will develop stationery and sporting goods respectively in Russia.

The licensing partners announcement, made today (15 October) at Brand Licensing Europe in London, came alongside the reveal of a new Angry Birds game. The Angry Birds Go! karting game will feature Hasbro’s Telepods, which players can use to “teleport” new karts into the game.

In addition, Rovio announced its online ToonsTV channel, which has already surpassed 1 billion views in seven months, will begin airing third-party content – which may include programming from brands – from 2014.

Rovio’s consumer products business accounted for 45 per cent of the company’s total revenue last year

Speaking to Marketing Week ahead of the announcements, Rovio executive vice president of gaming Jami Laes, said the company is still only at “the start of [its] journey” to become a fully fledged entertainment company but says its “explosive start” is down to its unique offering to brands.

He added: “We are about the first screen, the mobile, where we’ve had 1.7 billion downloads. We are a platform for millennials, our brand is so strong, the reach we have, the platform we have built, our audience, makes us an unbeatable offer…to combine the digital and physical world.”

Rovio is continuing to aggressively hire across a number of different disciplines internationally – including marketing – but Naz Cuevas, senior vice president of global consumer products licensing, said despite reaching 750 staff, the company will never lose its “entrepreneurial spirit”.

She added: “Regardless of that [headcount] number, we are given the flexibility to build the business and given the power to create in order to ensure we are a company that will be here for the next 100 years. And had it not been for our marketing we would not be here today. Marketing and building a strong marketing team still continues to be an important part of our plans.”

Earlier this year Rovio created an in-house brand advertising partnership division to rely less on third party ad networks for the display ads within its apps and also to form merchandise, licensing and product placement partnerships.

The EMEA and APAC brand ad partnership team was led by Todd Tran, former EMEA general manager of Apple’s mobile advertising business iAd. He has since left the company to join mobile ad exchange Nexage.

It is not clear whether he will be directly replaced, with a Rovio spokeswoman saying there was no further information and pointing out that Michelle Tobin is vice president of global brand partnerships and advertising.

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