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Rovio Mobile, Angry Birds and Use of Social Media in Public Relations

Rovios Angry Birds ([Image] Rovio Angry Birds)

By Group: Carla & Associates Module: COMM2295 Public Relations in Global Practice Full Name Chan Chee Yuan Teh Xifeng Ivan Kwok Siu Ming Daniel Hong Peiqin Marleen Ang Yoke Cheng Student ID 3309721 3309957 3293004 3309884 3309715

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Rovio Mobile, Angry Birds and Use of Social Media in Public Relations
Introduction This study attempts to understand the role played by social media in the success of Rovio Mobiles Angry Birds, and how the company utilized social media as a tool in Public Relations. Social media is defined as "a group of Internet-based applications that builds on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, which allows the creation and exchange of user-generated content." (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2009). Social media and its related technology can take on many forms, such as forums, weblogs, social blogs, wikis, podcasts, photograph / picture sharing, video / audio file sharing, ratings, comments, views, clicks, likes, email, online stores and social bookmarking etc.

Company History Rovio, a Finnish game company, had humble beginnings before hitting global success. It was founded in 2003 as Relude. In 2005, the name was changed to Rovio Mobile. (Rovio, Official Website)

Star Product In December 2009, Rovio released Angry Birds for Apples iOS. It was Rovios fiftysecond project (Shaw, Patrick, 2011). The game is centered on a group of avenging flightless birds, their objective being to eliminate thieving pigs by catapulting themselves in kamikaze fashion. The player controls the angle of the catapult, and points are given for each strike.

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Early game image of Angry Birds ([Image] Retrieved from: Chen, Brian X, 2011).

Current game image of Angry Birds ([Image] Retrieved from:

Rovio Mobiles Public Relations Communication Objectives with Angry Birds 1. Unique Selling Point - Fun Angry Birds offers a sense of Escapism by bringing out the child in us, and providing hours of fun. (Cheshire, Tom, 2011)

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2. Addictive Simplicity & Accessibility The game is physics-based, simple, yet engaging. There are no lengthy instructions, complicated plots, or confusing tutorials and control keys. Game loading times are extremely fast. It is easy to pick up, and can be played within a few minutes. It appeals to both casual gamers, and die-hard fans (Cheshire, Tom, 2011).

3. Affordable Pricing Trial versions are free, but the actual game, sold thrpough Appls Apps Store, costs only US$0.99 (Apple iTunes). Android versions are they are supported by in-game advertisements, while PC versions cost US$4.99.

4. Humorous and Iconic The characters are comical, and easily recognizable with unique features, most notably, the birds thick, frowning eyebrows. Popularizing the characters is as important as game sales, as up to 40% of Rovios profits are generated from merchandising (Cheshire, Tom, 2011). The iconic logo stood out among the rest of the apps in Apples Apps Store, attracting attention, and thus gaining downloads (Kendall, Paul, 2011). The sound effects are catchy, hilarious and instantly recognizable.

Angry Birds Field Guide ([Image], Retrieved from: Transmedia Camp 101, 2010).
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5. Continuous Relationship with Customers Social media is the most efficient way to maintain two-way communications between Rovio and its public. It is the companys policy that all fan mails and suggestions are to be answered. Customer relations is among their top priorities (Cheshire, Tom, 2011).

Current Practice 1. Use of Social Media The game has a significant presence on social media networks. Facebook registered 593,000 Likes on the Wikipedias Angry Birds alone. Likewise, it also registered more than 400,000 players per month who play the original Angry Birds, and almost 500,000 for the Seasons version. According to our survey (Annex B), social media acts as the second level of contact with the game (the first being word-of-mouth), providing information through peer discussion. Social media allows Rovio to reach its target audience quickly and cheaply, and acts as a feedback channel. For example, Publicity clips are disseminated through video-broadcasting web sites, like YouTube (YouTube). On forums, social websites and blogs, players can exchange gaming tips and review walkthroughs. Besides Facebook fan pages, traffic statistics for thirdparty web pages associated with the game can also be tracked via Facebooks Like function (Facebook). Free updates were also announced through social websites. The official Angry Birds online shop sells plush toys, PC games and casings for electronic devices. Customers can also access this store through Facebook.

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2. One Contact, Worldwide Distribution Apples Apps Store plays an important role in Angry Birds success. Rovio is able to secure an unprecedented market share through Apple alone, without having to negotiate with other phone manufacturers, telcos or other thirdparties (Cheshire, Tom, 2011).

3. Multi-Platform Expansion Prior to developing the game, Rovio had identified that the Apps Store would be the foothold from which expansions to other platforms will be launched. Originally released for Apples iOS, the games popularity grew immensely. While its gaming platform is still mainly reliant on Apples iPad and iPhone, it has also made forays to conquer other markets. This includes designing new versions for smartphone platforms like Android, Symbian, HP, and Nokia. Versions for console platforms include Nintendo and Sony Playstation, and versions for operating systems include Windows and Macintosh.

4. Maintaining Curiosity & Interest Rovio also seeks to retain its customers by releasing new content regularly. This approach includes the release of the Angry Birds Seasons version which is based on festive seasons or holidays. In addition, Rovio explored the concept of a movie tie-in by releasing Angry Birds Rio in 2011, in conjunction with the animation film of the same name. Again, the hype generated on social media at each launch lends a hand in promoting the game. (Broida, Rick, 2011)

Target Audiences & Business Partners 1. Target Audiences Rovios initial research identified their target audience as iPhone users, which,
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turned out that it was everybody. (Cheshire, Tom, 2011). Thus, they designed Angry Birds to appeal to everybody.

2. Business Partners Rovios business partners have a common trait: they understand, and know how to tap the power of social media. For digital products, social media is a means to an end, and has replaced traditional media as the main outlet for PR communications. (Takahashi, Dean, 2011)

Rovio Mobile and Advances in Social Media Technology

Real-Time Customer Support on Twitter Previously known as RovioMobile in the Twittersphere (Oxford Dictionaries), the name has been replaced by AngryBirds. This helps to facilitate fans on the Twitter network, by enabling easier searches, and improving customer service.

Their interactive real-time customer support is available on every working day. The Twitter feed is also being updated regularly with the latest marketing and PR information (Rovio Blog, 2011).

Google Chrome Web Store Angry Birds is freely available online in high definition resolution on the Google Chrome Web Store (Rovio Blog, 2011).

Angry Birds on Internet TV Roku, Inc., the market leader in Internet TV, has recently partnered with Rovio to bring the Angry Birds experience to Internet TV (Roku, Inc., 2011). The plan is to offer Angry Birds games, an animated series, and related merchandise all through the Roku Channel Store.

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Angry Birds Cookbook Soon, a self-published family cookbook consisting mainly of egg-based recipes will be available from Amazon, Apple, and Barnes & Noble. It will be sold in both traditional bounded and electronic-book versions (Van Grove, Jennifer, 2011).

Movie Partnership & Super Bowl Advertisement

Angry Birds cameo in the commercial for Rio the movie (Rio Super Bowl Ad).

Angry Birds was featured in a cameo in the Super Bowl advertisement earlier this year (Warren, Christina, 2011), appearing in the commercial of the animated film, Rio (produced by Blue Sky Studios). Fans that unlocked a code would be treated to a Super Bowl-themed level in the game. In addition, players who completed that particular game level had the opportunity to win passes to attend the Rio movie premiere.

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SWOT Analysis of Rovio Mobile using Social Media in Public Relations

[Image] Retrieved from: Using Social Media for PR

Strengths 1. Worldwide Reach & Advances in Technology Social media is an effective platform for reaching out to mass audiences worldwide. With advances in mobile and web technology integrating social media as a tool, the audience pool for Rovio is growing. Their move to Facebook will grant them further access to a base of 500 million users (Oliveros, Luis, 2011). Greater connectivity means Rovio can communicate directly with their publics. Marshall McLuhan presupposed the internet and social media as extensions of consciousness, contracting the world into a global village (McLuhan, Marshall, 1962).

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2. Unofficial Ambassadors Fans who blogged, tweeted, and posted about Angry Birds on social media networks became willing, unofficial ambassadors for the game (Oliveros, Luis, 2011). This was free publicity for Rovio, on top of their online marketing campaign. Rovio even organized a World Angry Birds Day for its fans, on December 11th 2010.

3. Real-Time Communication & Community Engagement As noted above, Rovio uses Social Media for customer support and publicity. This means Rovio can disseminate information quickly, and social medias peer-to-peer interaction means their target audiences can get instant information as and when they require it. Fans that are engaged are also more likely to maintain a longer interest in Rovios games.

Table 1.1 Four models of public relations Adapted from Grunig and Hunt, 1984: 22
Table 8.1

Social Media

Four models of public relations

Social Media falls into the category of two-way symmetric model of public relations (J, Grunig & Hunt, T, 1984), where communication is both from the organizations management to the public, and vice-versa.

Source: Adapted from Grunig and Hunt 1984: 22

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Feedback gathered from social media comes through channels such as blogs, comments on posts or videos, and email. This feedback allows Rovio to evaluate their strategies, and plan future messages. This is in line with new communication models, such as that proposed by Foulger (Foulger, Davis, 2004).

An Ecological Model of the Communication Process ([Image], Foulger, Davis, 2004). Such a communication model presents a case wherein consumers and creators have a mutually beneficial relationship.

4. Market Research Feedback from customers allows Rovio to explore concepts, anticipate trends and plan development of games. For example, a 5-year-old boy named Ethan mailed some Angry Birds fan art to Rovio, who then incorporated his design into the game (Shaw, Patrick, 2011).

5. Cost-Effective & Measurable Advertising through social media is less expensive as compared to traditional media. Uploading a YouTube video of Angry Birds costs nothing, and yet Rovio
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can earn advertising dollars as the videos command millions of views (Cheshire, Tom, 2011). Also, web analytics provide Rovio an easy tool to see if their brand or games are in trend, and thus, the publics attitude towards its brand consciousness.

6. Corporate Social Responsibility In line with their game, Rovio supports the cause of BirdLife International, which is committed to the conservation of critically endangered birds (BirdLife International, Official Website). Rovio has helped raise awareness through their website and Facebook page (Rovio Blog, 2011), and rewards fans by giving them access to a secret level in the game (Long Ade, 2011).

Weaknesses 1. Limitations of Technology Social media requires internet or mobile access; hence, those without such technologies cant get involved. This pool of people however, is getting smaller.

2. Needs Consistency Rovio will need to constantly keep engaging their fans, because using social media means generating more efforts to keep up a consistent message and corporate image. Having an online following means they cant disappear suddenly. This is unlike traditional media, where failure to advertise regularly may not be that damaging to a brand.

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3. Product Being More Well-known Than The Company PR is the creation and identification of a brand and identity. Results from our survey (Annex B) indicate that Rovios brand isnt as strong as the brand of their product, Angry Birds, thus creating an interesting situation where the product is more well-known than the company that produced it.

4. One-Hit Wonder? This creates potential problems for Rovio, as they could come to be known as a one-hit wonder. In future, Rovios other non-Angry Birds games may suffer in popularity due to the weakness of the company brand. Rovios management has realized this, and thus, are working on new concepts (Cheshire, Tom, 2011).

Opportunities 1. Partnership Opportunities & Corporate Communications Angry Birds has been praised as the new Super Mario (Chen, Brian X, 2011), and plans are in the works to diversify the brand. Initiatives include the development of board games and a movie. Besides Apple and Blue Sky Studios, Rovio is also planning partnerships with Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Mattel, Roku, Downjoy, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and more. Again, these new partnerships are announced through social media. Members of Rovios management team have also been invited as speakers or contributors to conferences (Kendall, Paul, 2011).

2. Finding Talent & Employee Relations Rovio uses social media to find and hire new employees. Job openings are posted on their company website (Rovio, Official Website).

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3. Viral Marketing & Merchandising Angry Birds had gone viral through social media, helping Rovio to achieve success. New consumer research shows over 50% of Facebook fans and 60% of Twitter followers say they are more likely to buy or recommend a product which has a presence on social media (Chadwick Martin Bailey, 2011).

Image retrieved from: Chadwick Martin Bailey, 2011.

Threats 1. Industrial Espionage & Information Leaks Competitors are able to access information, such as launch dates, and develop counter-strategies, such as launching similar products. Utilizing social media also means Rovios employees are more connected, and humans make mistakes. Confidential information may inadvertently be leaked out.

2. Crisis & Issues Being in more direct contact means that when a crisis strike, social media will magnify the impact, as information spreads rapidly. Poor management and communication during a crisis could tarnish Rovios reputation.
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3. Copyright Infringement Unauthorized replication of Rovios merchandise competes for profits. Pirated versions of plush toys and tee-shirts are already being sold in stores acorss the world.

4. Jail-Breaking This is a technical loophole that allows applications to be installed on iOS for free. This also reduces the revenue for Rovio.

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Case Study: A Comparison Between Rovio Mobile vs. Zynga Company Description Zynga is another game developer for social networks. Their games are designed for Facebook, MySpace, Mobile Devices (iOS / Android), Yahoo, or as stand-alone browser games. This multi-platform approach allows Zynga to reach a wide audience, with up to 232 million monthly active users (Zynga, Official Website). This makes Zynga the number one company in online and social game development (Takahashi, Dean, 2011). According to a recent study, four of Zynga's games, namely, CityVille, FarmVille, Zynga Poker, and FrontierVille, are the most widely played games on Facebook (Glasser, AJ, 2011). Zyngas CEO and founder, Mark Pincus, attributes his companys success to creating simple games that people like but can easily set aside (Gross, Doug, 2010), and the concept of Freemium (Boyd E.B., 2010), where games are free but users have the option to purchase virtual content to enhance their personal gaming experience (Helft, Miguel, 2010).

Comparisons between Zynga and Rovio in Their Usage of Social Media in Public Relations 1. Social Media Platforms, Advertising & Branding As noted above, Rovio utilizes Apples iOS network extensively in their launch of Angry Birds, before branching out into other mobile platforms, and finally, to social networks such as Facebook. In contrast, Zynga utilizes the viral nature of Facebooks network, before foraging into the mobile platform market. They utilizes game invitations, as well as online in-game advertising and automatic game updates to players friends (Gross, Doug, 2010). Zyngas success with multiple games brings its brand name into the forefront of public consciousness among social media.

2. Games Developed
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While Rovio has developed over 50 games, it is known only for Angry Birds and its related spin-offs. Zynga, however, has developed just over 40 games, but has already achieved success with 13 titles. Zyngas games are also available on both mobile platforms and social networks. Rovio lags behind as their game is only just being released for Facebook.

3. Target Audiences Rovio has taken a one bird kill many pigs approach with Angry Birds, claiming that their game is for everybody.

However, Zynga has developed their games around a common theme. Each game has a specific theme like City Building (CityVille), Farming (FarmVille), Military Strategy (Empires & Allies), Fish Rearing (FishVille) or Gangster (Mafia Wars). This creates mass-appeal to each specific target audiences.

4. Customer Feedback Both Rovio and Zynga have active fan bases which they communicate regularly with. Angry Birds has a fan site (Angry Birds Nest), while Zynga has multiple fan sites for each of its games.

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Conclusion Rovio Mobile has made extensive use of social media in their public relations efforts, and this has helped their star product, Angry Birds, to achieve worldwide recognition. While other game developers may have used traditional media channels before branching out into social media, Rovio has taken the opposite approach, utilizing social media channels before going into traditional media, such as film and television. In terms of public relations functions, Rovio has demonstrated the use of social media in Marketing, Advertising, Customer Relations, Research, Evaluation, Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Communications, Investor Relations and Employee Relations. Rovio has also demonstrated good use of Integrated Marketing Communication, as across all media channels, the Angry Birds brand speaks with one voice. Rovio plans to diversify its Angry Birds brand into other products and merchandise. However, if they are to launch a new product independent of this franchise, the reception may be lackluster due to the low visibility of Rovios brand. Therefore, they can take reference from Zynga by developing games based on specific themes, and utilizing the full potential of social media. Beyond mobile technologies, Rovio will need to develop their branding on social networking sites, and eventually through other mass media channels too.


Word Count: (2,906 words)

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Annex A: References & Attribution 1. Angry Birds Nest. Web Site. Retrieved July 12th 2011, from 2. Apple iTunes. Web Site. Retrieved July 06th 2011, from 3. BirdLife International, Official Website. Web Site. Retrieved July 13th 2011, from 4. Boyd E.B., 2010. (Freemium Summit) Three Lessons on Making the Freemium Model Work, from WordPress CEO, March 26th 2010. Web Document. Retrieved July 10th 2011, from 5. Broida, Rick, 2011. Angry Birds Seasons celebrates summer with pig update, June 29th 2011. Web Document. Retrieved July 07th 2011, from 6. Chadwick Martin Bailey, 2011. CMB Consumers Engaged Via Social Media Are More Likely To Buy, Recommend, March 16th 2010. [Image] Web Image. Retrieved June 17th 2011, from 7. Chen, Brian X, 2011. How Angry Birds Is Becoming the Next Super Mario, January 28th 2011. Web Document. Retrieved June 18th 2011, from
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8. Cheshire, Tom, 2011. How Rovio Made Angry Bird A Winner, March 07th 2011. Web Document. Retrieved July 08th 2011, from 9. Facebook. Angry Birds Facebook Community. Web Page. Retrieved July 07th 2011, from 10. Facebook. Angry Birds Apps. Web Page. Retrieved July 07th 2011, from 11. Facebook. Angry Birds Seasons. Web Page. Retrieved July 07th 2011, from 12. Foulger, Davis, 2004. An Ecological Model of the Communication Process, April 16th 2004. Web Document, [Image] Web Image. Retrieved July 12th 2011, from 13. Glasser, AJ, 2011. Top 25 Facebook games for May 2011, May 3rd 2011. Web Document. Retrieved July 11th 2011, from 14. Gross, Doug, 2010. The Facebook games that millions love (and hate), Feburary 23rd 2010. Web Document. Retrieved July 10th 011, from 15. J, Grunig & Hunt, T, 1984. Managing Public Relations. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York 1984. P. 22. ISBN 0030583373, 9780030583377. Book.

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16. Kaplan & Haenlein, 2009. The Challenges And Opportunities of Social Media, Business Horizons (2010) 53, 59-68. Kelley School Of Business, Indiana University, Web Document. Retrieved July 13th2011, from 17. Kendall, Paul, 2011. Angry Birds: the story behind iPhone's gaming phenomenon, February 07th 2011. Web Document. Retrieved July 13th 2011, from 18. Helft, Miguel, 2010. Will Zynga Become the Google of Games, July 24th 2010. Web Document. Retrieved July 10th 2011, from pagewanted=all 19. Long Ade, 2011. Help for the Worlds Angriest Birds,, April 21st 2011. Web Document. Retrieved July 13th 2011, from 20. McLuhan, Marshall, 1962. The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 9780802060419. Book. 21. Oliveros, Luis, 2011. The Angry Bird social media trebuchet, March 10th,2011. Web Page. Retrieved June 30th 2011, from 22. Oxford Dictionaries n.d., Twittersphere. Web Page. Retrieved July 07th 2011, from
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23. Rio Super Bowl Ad Features Angry Birds Hidden Level Clues, Feburary 06th 2011. [Image] Web Image. Retrieved July 11th 2011, from 24. Roku, Inc. 2011. Roku Partners with Rovio to Bring First Angry Birds Experience to TV, Expands Internet TV Platform to Include Casual Games, June 01st 2011. Web Page. Retrieved July 11th 2011, from 25. Rovio, Official Website. Web Site. Retrieved July 08th 2011, from 26. Rovio Angry Birds. [Image] Web Image. Retrieved July 14th 2011, from 27. Rovio Blog. Web Site. Retrieved July 07th 2011, from 28. Shaw, Patrick, 2011. The Future of Angry Birds, February 28th 2011. Web Document. Retrieved July 08th 2011 from 29. Takahashi, Dean, 2011. Skype founder, others catapult $42M to Angry Birds, March 10th 2010. Web Document. Retrieved July 07th 2011, from 30. Takahashi, Dean, 2011. Zynga becomes No. 1 in number of online gamers, July 31st 2009. Web Document. Retrieved July 12th 2011, from

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Page 22 of 29 31. Transmedia Camp 101, 2010. Angry Birds Field Guide, December 01st 2010. [Image] Web Image. Retrieved July 14th 2011, from b_zdscl-scaled1000.jpg 32. Using Social Media for PR, May 31st 2011. [Image] Web Image. Retrieved June 30th 2011, from 33. Van Grove, Jennifer, 2011. Angry Birds To Publish Cookbook Full of Egg Recipes, June 08th 2011. Web Document. Retrieved July 11th 2011, from 34. Warren, Christina, 2011. Rio Super Bowl Ad Features Angry Birds Hidden Level Clues, Feburary 06th 2011. Web Document. Retrieved July 11th 2011, from 35. [Image] Web Image. Retrieved July 13th 2011, from 36. YouTube Video, 2011. Angry Birds & The Mighty Eagle. Retrieved July 13th 2011, from 37. YouTube Video, 2011. Angry Birds Rio Trailer. Retrieved July 13th 2011, from 38. YouTube Video, 2011. Angry Birds Original In-Game Trailer. Retrieved July 13th 2011, from 39. YouTube Video, 2011. Nokia Angry Birds Playground. Retrieved July 08th 2011, from

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40. YouTube Video, 2011. T-Mobile Angry Birds Live. Retrieved July 08th 2011, from 41. YouTube Video, 2011. Angry Bird Peace Treaty. Retrieved July 08th 2011, from 42. Zynga, Official Website. Web Site. Retrieved July 12th 2011 from

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Annex B: Survey Results

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