When companies get a taste of success, they sometimes make the mistake of moving away from the strategies that brought them there. But that’s not the case at Rovio Entertainment Ltd., an entertainment media firm known for the “Angry Birds” character franchise.
Instead, Rovio has retained the collaborative mindset it had when it first started operations in 2003, Senior Vice President of Global Consumer Products & Licensing Naz Cuevas says. “We will always have a start-up mentality at any time,” she says. “You will see [our] managers [and] directors rolling up their sleeves and solving a problem.”
Based in Espoo, Finland, Rovio produces game applications, animation, books, educational products and theme park attractions. The company has launched 11 games that have been successful worldwide on different platforms, including “Angry Birds,” “Bad Piggies,” “Angry Birds Rio” and “Angry Birds Star Wars.”
“With our delightful flock of characters, and amazing creative talent, we have countless opportunities to grow the story and brand," Cuevas says. The fun will continue on Dec. 11 when Rovio launches its “Angry Birds Go!” game featuring the characters in downhill races in a 3-D world.
As further evidence that the company is not standing still, but rather flying high, in March of 2013, Rovio launched its first animated series entitled “Angry Birds Toons.” The episodes feature characters from the Angry Birds game and follows their adventures on Piggie Island. The series is available on Rovio's own ToonsTV channel (inside of its games and on connected platforms) as well as on local broadcast TV partners in select territories around the world.
If a user is playing “Angry Birds” via an app on their mobile device, they will get a Toons button option whether or not they want to play the game or visit Rovio’s ToonsTV channel. If they choose the channel, “It’ll take you through a carousel of fun and exciting content,” Cuevas says.
After only seven months, “We have crossed over 1 billion views at ToonsTV Channel,” she says. “We think these numbers show a great thirst for our content and we are so proud that so many have found us and we believe they are looking for even more,” Cuevas says.
As a result of its success, Rovio plans to offer new original series and third-party content in 2014 by partnering with major players such as Hasbro Studios and The Jim Henson Co.
Rovio is set apart by its commitment to its fans, Cuevas insists. “We are proud to be supported by such a strong fan-base, and we live and breathe it across all of our different business units everyday,” she says.
The company goes out of its way to make sure that it answers all of the emails, tweets or messages on Facebook it receives from its fans. “The No. 1 thing that sets us apart, is our continual dialogue with our fans,” she says. “It’s the give-and-take dialogue that we have with them.”
Rovio will often make important decisions through this fan-centric dialogue, she explains. As Rovio was developing “Angry Birds Go!”, the company was not sure whether it would manufacture a game where its characters raced by running on foot or by using carts.
“After 20 years in this business, I would never have expected my marketing team to say, ‘Why don’t we ask the fans first?’” Cuevas admits. Ultimately, fans voted through a Facebook survey for the characters to use carts, but “It was very, very close.”
The company also keeps the fans in mind when merchandising and stays true to its characters for its fans. For instance, “What works in Latin America or Europe is different than what works in Japan. Each fan is able to see the brand from their own perspective in their localized market.” she says.
Rovio maintains an informal, relaxed work environment, Cuevas says. “We are inventors and innovators, but at the same time, the company is about having fun [while] thinking of different ways to make a difference,” she says.
The company plans to maintain this atmosphere as it grows as an entertainment company, Cuevas says. In 2016, she says, Rovio will release an “Angry Birds” movie.
“We want to deliver our wonderful story of funny characters to our fans,” she says. “Rovio says, ‘What can I do and how else can I make an impact?’ That’s really our start-up mentality that will always stay with us.”