Rovio Top 10: #1 Angry Birds Space
Angry Birds Space deserves its place amongst legends. Sometimes the right people and right vision come together with the right timing and form something magical. This property is a clear example.
With Angry Birds Space, one of the primary objectives was to complete the transformation of Rovio from a games company into an entertainment company. To do this, Angry Birds Space would have to be the first mobile and tablet first, digital property to launch day and date with animation, books and consumer products. Ambitious.
But lets rewind a little bit first. We started off the campaign by teasing our fans and interested media via social media and a fun little website. Next, we released multiple teasing campaigns all pointing anyone who might be curious to tune in on March 8th.
On March 8th, we announced Angry Birds Space from space with the help of NASA aboard the International Space Station! Astronaut Don Pettit was just pure awesome in the video which would later win an award as the best branded physics lesson. Don made learning fun! What a start, anything seemed possible.
We continued building up the property and creating excitement and awareness by revealing characters one at a time. Additionally, we focused on smart win-win partnerships like Samsung and their flagship product the Galaxy Note. We, also, tried to expose influential audiences to the Angry Birds Space franchise too by launching the FWA award-winning website. We were clicking on all cylinders.
On March 22, 2012 - Angry Birds Space was launched. To celebrate that special day, we partnered with the Space Needle in Seattle, T-Mobile and the city of Seattle to turn this world famous icon into a giant Angry Birds Space slingshot. Against all odds & probabilities (weather, wind, engineering and permits), 1 hole (the bird was punctured during set-up), 1 baby (on the same day my wife and I were rushed to the hospital for the birth of my first born son Liam) and 4 different insurance companies - the Space Needle slingshot installation became a picture that was seen around the world.
Needless to say, Angry Birds Space broke every download record imaginable. The game reached #1 on the download chart in almost 140 countries as well as #1 in the grossing charts in nearly 100 countries. Angry Birds Space ushered in the era of the “Mobile Blockbuster" and the campaign finished #3 on Ad Age’s viral video chart for 2012.
But that was just the beginning. We treat out games as a service so there we some big updates and lots of content after the launch which included collaborations with NASA such as the Mars Curiosity Rover and Asteroids. Additionally, we included a couple amazing guest stars such as the legendary rock icon Slash and the moon walking, space hero Buzz Aldrin.
Two years on, Angry Birds Space is still very much alive and still my favorite mobile game of all-time. Its well-crafted, interesting and educational - a masterpiece.
Rovio Top 10: #2 Angry Birds Star Wars
My first thought was “this cannot be anything but amazing!” I cannot be part of something that might leave a black mark on the beloved Star Wars franchise. There had been too many of those lately. Luckily, I wasn’t the only one that felt that way. My man, Toni Kysenius who was leading all the art on the project felt the exact same way. Together, we would act on Yoda’s classic words of wisdom “Do, or do not. There is no try.” The Force was strong with us, etc.
After the out-of-this-world launch of Angry Birds Space, there was a ton of pressure to do something even bigger for Angry Birds Star Wars. Instead, we did the smallest thing possible. Everyone thought we were nuts. I was so happy that my partners in crime Saara Bergström and Robin Squire were willing to to go all in on this brave idea with me. We announced the franchise with a .gif file on TUMBLR on a Friday attracting 3% of all of TUMBLR’s monthly traffic over the weekend. 3% of all everything! Then on Monday we had a more official unveiling at Times Square in NYC. We took over the wrap around scrim of the Toys R Us and gave away limited edition posters and showed all the costumes, plush toys and Hasbro figures that would be part of the day and date launch of the game. It was a entertainment franchise launch. No game was shown. We would save that for later. It worked like a charm.
Angry Birds Star Wars was a monster hit! The game hit the #1 position in the download chart in over 120 countries and hit #1 on the grossing chart in over 60 countries. Although the franchise was not announced until the 2nd half of the year, the videos in the campaign came still came in at #10 on Ad Age’s 2012 most viral chart.
Overall, the campaign had some of the best produced video assets to date including an amazing cinematic trailer from our world-class animation team which has more than 40 million views on YouTube to date and a ton of fun other video content as seen here with the character reveals.
How big did this franchise become? Even George Lucas was seen wearing a Darth Vader Pig sweatshirt. That’s about as big as it gets.
Rovio Top 10: #3 Angry Birds Star Wars 2
After the success of Angry Birds Star Wars, it was a sizable challenge to make a follow-up game in the expansion of the franchise which would cover the prequels while remaining fresh and interesting. I think we were able to do just that with Angry Birds Star Wars 2 and we were able to turn it into another big success. We even made Jar Jar Binks cool. Almost.
First we teased the property with a tribute to the amazing poster concept that was used for the Star Wars Episode 1 teaser. Basically, we announced the game and focused our fans and media on July 15th as we felt we had a trick up our sleeve for the official announcement. And the trick up our sleeve was the addition of Hasbro TELEPODS which allows for a digital and physical play experience with the toy line that accompanied the game at launch. In addition to TELEPODS, you could play, normally, as the Birds or for the first time ever you could “Join the Pork Side” and play as the pigs. We got the emperor from Star Wars to voice over the Emperor Pig and he asked all our fans to “Join the Pork Side.” Who more credible to ask that question than Ian McDiarmid himself? Legendary. Lots of other cool marketing and animated content followed with a strong roadmap of updates to the game. We even had the help of Peter Mayhew and Daniel Logan during the campaign.
We also released my all-time favorite collectible Angry Birds Star Wars toy which sold out fast at San Diego Comic Con 2013.
Rovio Top 10: #4 Angry Birds + Freddie Mercury
The Mercury Phoenix Trust got in touch with us at Rovio about collaborating for the annual “Freddie For A Day” celebration which happens every year on September 5th. The year previously, MPT had done a collaboration with the Google Doodle the year before. We absolutely loved the idea and did a fantastic animation (its my personal favorite animation in my time at Rovio) and an awesome limited edition t-shirt for a great cause. The following year we did a tournament in Angry Birds Friends to once again support the cause. Big props to Ville Heijari for being my partner in crime to keep pushing this project across the organization.
Rovio Top 10: #5 Angry Birds Toons + ToonsTV
Angry Birds Toons on ToonsTV was a literal game changer. Overnight, all Angry Birds apps instantly became one of the biggest digital broadcasting platforms on the planet by the placement of the ToonsTV icon on the homesceen allowing users to either play the game or watch the series with a touch of a button. Not only was there an amazing new series by our world-class animation studio, but there was also additional 3rd party content such as Stan Lee & Graphic India’s “Chakra the Invincible” as well as other great content from Jim Henson, Xilam Entertainment, Hasbro Studios and National Geographic.
Angry Birds Toons is also available through several video-on-demand services, connected TVs and 20 broadcasters around the world. Its available for purchase on the Itunes Store and on Blu-ray and DVD. ToonsTv and Angry Birds Toons has been incredibly successful thus far with over 1 billion views and I can tell you its only going to get much bigger!
Rovio Top 10: #6 Angry Birds GO!
Angry Birds GO! was Rovio’s first big move into the free-to-play business model with good, solid results - but not without a few hiccups too. The big hiccup was the scrutiny we received during the soft launch. Most developers do and should keep their soft launches quiet but Rovio isn’t most developers. We asked the team to refrain from aggressive monetization in the first week of the soft launch even though they need to test all kinds of monetization combinations. Still, somehow, there ended up being one version of the game available with $99 in-app purchases. This caused a shit storm that snowballed in combination with in-game advertising and corporate sponsorships. The combination was too much, too fast.
With that said, we handled the adversity reasonably well by learning really fast and making the proper adjustments that were needed. The internal team and the development team, Exient, delivered a kick-ass game which some were putting in the conversation as a Mario Kart of mobile.
Angry Birds GO! reached the #1 ranking in more than 100 countries in the download chart and hit #1 in the grossing charts in 25 countries and is still going strong with the recent release of the all-new episode call “Sub Zero.”
Angry Birds GO! continued the excellent partnership with Hasbro and their digital / physical platform called TELEPODS. Here is a TV commercial for TELEPODS and here is another TV commercial as well. Additionally, there was further media support with a TV commercial for the Angry Birds GO! Jenga game.
Lastly, here is a good behind the scenes story of the making of Angry Birds GO!
Angry Birds Go! was an amazing learning experience and I am looking forward to its continued success.
Follow Joonas for all the latest on Angry Birds Go! as he did an excellent job leading the campaign.
Rovio Top 10: #8 Piggy Tales
Piggy Tales is an all-new animated series released after the success of the first season of Angry Birds Toons. Its a concept Ritva Eskelainen and I came up with as a fun way to get to know the pigs better and allow for quick production timelines to incorporate current events.
Rovio Top 10: #9 Angry Birds Epic
Angry Birds Epic was a move into new territory for the flock with an introductory mid-core RPG and a further move into free-to-play. Because Rovio got burned with scrutiny at the time of the Angry Birds GO! “soft launch,” we decided to have a little bit of fun with Angry Birds Epic by calling it “the most EPIC soft launch ever.” Overall, very positive traction on the soft launch and it set up the right interest and right expectations for the global launch. The game debuted in the top 5 of the download charts in over 130 countries and in the top 10 grossing chart in over 30 countries. Its off to a good start and I will be watching this closely to see how it performs over time. Congrats to the team!
Gulp. The World’s Largest Stop-Motion Animation Shot on a Nokia N8.
This was to be the last big piece of marketing for the Nokia N8 and I wanted to make sure it went out with a bang while reiterating the brand position that Nokia makes amazing hardware - and its cameras are industry leading. And what better way to go big then getting in the Guinness Book of World Records by shooting the world’s biggest stop-motion animation on a beach in Wales with sand artist Jamie Wardley + two Nokia N8’s. Make sure you watch the behind the scenes here.
In a down time for Nokia where the media was starting to give up hope for the company’s future - this was a sign of life and showed Nokia wasn’t dead yet. This campaign got plenty of amazing PR and buzz. The positive coverage started in the printed edition of the Metro UK and then started rolling from there. A few great examples of amazing headlines include Mashable, Gizmodo, Engadget, Wired, Fast Company and many, many others. This was another project I received a glowing email from the Nokia CEO Stephen Elop thanking me on Nokia’s behalf.
On a sad note, this turned out to be Wieden + Kennedy's swan song with Nokia. But what a way to end! I want to thank them for all their great work and it was a pleasure to work with one of the world's greatest advertizing agencies (if not the greatest!).
Here is a nice recap of some of the best work from Nokia and w+k. Does any of it look familiar?
Thanks to Russell Anderson for being a great partner in crime on this project.
Agency = wieden+kennedy
Director = Aardman - Sumo Science
Gulp. The World’s largest Stop Motion Animation Shot on a Nokia N8.
The Making of.
Nokia Shorts 2011 + WINNER - “Splitscreen: A Love Story”
Lets start off with a recap. No need for me to write about the entire recap of the contest because the good people at Short of the Week already did. Lets just say that every detail of the contest was meticulously detailed and we couldn’t have had a better partner than Vimeo! Adding some additional brilliant partners to the mix such as Empire, Vice and the Edinburgh Film Festival resulted in amazing synergies that could be seen in the wild success of the winning video - James W. Griffith's stunning film - “Splitscreen: A Love Story.”
And how they noticed. In a stormy patch for Nokia, this was definitely some much needed sunlight. The Wall Street Journal’s headline said it all: ”At Last Some Good Press For Nokia!” From there, it was an avalanche of kudos and recognition. Some coverage highlights include The Huffington Post, Gizmodo & Adweek. The winning video was broadcast on CBS, France 24 News & BBC Click. It spread like wildfire on Twitter when David Pogue tweeted to his 1.4 million followers. And even our Nokia CEO, Stephen Elop, wrote to me on email saying how much he loved the marketing initiative - even watching the final video twice.
The quality of the entries and the winning video’s results were even better than we could have imagined! The winning video alone has more that 2 million views on Vimeo and over 18.5k likes while being shared more than 200k times on Facebook! Legendary.
I can wait to see what the guys do with Nokia Shorts 2012!