Cannes 2011: The Mighty Eagle on what marketers can learn from Angry Birds

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Cannes | In Advertising | June 22, 2011
The last session on Tuesday afternoon saw Angry Birds' creator Peter Vesterbacka share tips on how marketers can learn the art of addiction from the simple puzzle video game.

When Peter Vesterbacka, creator of the super-hit video game Angry Birds, also known as the Mighty Eagle at Rovio Mobile, asked the audience at the Debussy to raise their hand if they had ever played Angry Birds, almost 99 per cent of the people present threw their hands into the air. Such is the success of Angry Birds.

Vesterbacka shared some handy tips that marketers can use and propel their brands forward. He began by confessing that though thought of as an overnight success story, Angry Birds took a long time to build. The initial process of building games began in 2003 and since then, Vesterbacka has created several games (such as Bounce, Need for Speed, and Collapse, to name a few) before he gave the world Angry Birds. Apparently, 51 odd games were built before Angry Birds took shape and Vesterbacka confides that he and his team tried to eliminate the role of luck at every step. "We kept the entire process very analytical," he said.

Regarding the game itself, he shared that it took around eight months to fully build it. The team studied a lot of other games on the web and mobile space and learnt from them. Vesterbacka made a checklist and made sure that all the pros and cons of the existing games were taken into consideration while developing Angry Birds. Internally he shared, the game was referred to as 'Birds', at the development stage.

As regards tips for marketers, Vesterbacka informed that keeping the TG (target group) broad is a good idea. Angry Birds targets three-year-olds, ninety-year-olds and everyone in-between! "Marketing is not rocket science," he smiled. "Two things must be borne in mind - fans, and the brand itself," he said.

Vesterbacka explained that marketers must aim to serve their fans well. He was, therefore, clear right from the start that he wanted to reward, and not punish the players in his game. About keeping the brand at the forefront at all times, he reveals that when Angry Birds was associated with the animated film Rio (based on birds), he specified that it was an 'Angry Birds-Rio' association and not a 'Rio-Angry Birds' one.

Relying on word-of-mouth communication in the absence of mammoth advertising spends is another way to find one's way, Vesterbacka said, confessing that in the early days of Angry Bird, ad spends were minimal and the brand relied heavily on the word-of-mouth medium to spread information about the game.

Rounding up, he said that for a marketer, three aspects must take precedence -- giving the brand a distinct character, making the brand addictive, and making it very accessible. Soon after it started becoming popular, Angry Birds was made accessible on every possible device and platform, right from phones to the internet. "It's about taking the brand everywhere," Vesterbacka declared.

Angry Birds was even integrated with television. During the Super Bowl, advertisements for the film Rio bore clues for Angry Birds players on how to advance to higher levels in the game. Additionally, Angry Birds merchandise took off last year.

The last tip that Vesterbacka shared was on how to expand the market for one's brand or product. This is why many people who don't usually play games, play Angry Birds. He ended his talk by underscoring the importance of consumer feedback. "I respond to each and every tweet addressed to me," says Vesterbacka, signing off.

To view interviews from Cannes 2011, click here.

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