Rovio is not an overnight success. Angry Birds is their 52nd game. After four years of birds and pigs, the property is as strong as ever. Just announced is Angry Birds Transfomers and Angry Birds Stella which celebrates friendship. I talked to Naz Cuevas, EVP of Consumer Products Licensing at the Licensing Expo 2014.
Listen to Your Fans
Cuevas: Unlike other brands, Angry Birds has a one-to-one fan experience. Rather than a lean-back, submersive experience, we have a lean-in, immersive experience when you play. When you have that one-to-one relationship with the fans, you’re able to surprise and delight them with additional iterations because you already have that fandom. We launched in 2009 thinking, “Let’s launch an amazing game and let the fans come to us. And let’s take care of them.” The licensing came because of the fans. They started to tweet and post demand for products so the company made a decision to go that route. We’re able to measure chatter and make quick adjustments where needed.
Staying True To Your Core
You have to focus on the game or the character or on the content. Whenever your core business is, that’s what you have to focus on. You have to have an authentic relationship with your fans. Rovio is a story telling company. You learn about the birds, you learn about the pigs. And the fans want to know more. They want to consume it, they want to eat it, they want to drink it, they want to dress with it, and they want to play with it. For the fans, they don’t experience the brand in a siloed version. They don’t say, “I am now playing the game. I am now wearing the T-shirt.” For the fan, it’s a singular experience. For Rovio we have a thinking, “There is no Brand. There’s nothing but the Brand.”
Continue to Surprise and Delight
Angry Birds Transformers has been a project I’ve been working on with Hasbro for the last 18 months. After we announced Angry Birds Star Wars, we saw how the fans were responding to it.
(According to a Hasbro executive, this will be the first time “in the game [the characters] can actually have a transformation.”)
Angry Birds Stella celebrates friendship and we introduce a new flock of characters. We have classic Pink Bird with an additional new five characters. For consumer products, the brand will celebrate female heroism. All the cast are flawed. There’s someone who’s very shy so she doesn’t like to speak; there’s someone who’s constantly getting herself trouble because she’s concocting experiments in chemistry; there’s someone who’s very annoying talking too much, burps and farts; there’s a little boy who is supposed to hang out with the flock of characters but is secretly in love with the bad princess who is the arch enemy of Stella.
Stick to Your Brand
Rovio tend to be off-key, off the beaten path, very funny, and a little rebellious. What made the difference were the characters. The juxtaposition of an Angry Bird. When you look at them, they look like angry old men with bushy eyebrows. We really focus on details to insure that the storyline remains and that humor is always infused. We make sure every single consumer product tells a story. When a fan picks up a product, we want them to think of a funny scene. We focus on the details so that the storyline remains and that humor is infused.
Go to Your Fans
[During Comic-Con 2012] we were sitting there in a car with 5000 t shirts and fans were going crazy. This year we’re participating in two capacities. Hasbro at the booth, we have an activity. And then we have our own activity around Stella. We’ll have our own pop-up shop there so fans come in and do personalization of products and hang out with the characters.
Live Each Day as If it’s Your Last
We have over 2 billion downloads in the short 4 years. We’re the only brand that was born in the digital sphere and transitioned over to the entertainment space. Our goal is to remain there for a hundred years. We don’t look in the brand as if it’s going to stay there for a hundred years. There’s no Rovian that comes in and says, “We’ve done it.” On the contrary, we are empowered. Every single member of the organization feels empowered to bring in their good ideas. We live each day as if it’s our last day so you leave nothing behind.