“Angry Birds” creator Rovio isn’t playing around when it comes to advertising. The Finland-based company on Thursday announced the
expansion of its global advertising team with senior hires from various companies, including Apple, Millennial Media and inMobi.
Through the talent infusion, Rovio aims to forge closer ties with the world’s largest brands and advertisers. That effort includes upgrading ad offerings tied to its blockbuster game franchise across platforms, as well as merchandising and amusement parks.
“Our new Brand Advertising Partnership Team in the U.S. will enable us to now partner directly with other lifestyle brands,” said Michele Tobin, head of North American Brand Advertising Partnerships. “The model of simply placing standard display ads in online and mobile properties is not necessarily strategic for the majority of tier one brands, and that model was in need of disruption.”
The new team in the U.S. includes Betsy Flounders Novak, who joins from mobile video ad network Rhythm New Media. She will be responsible for the West and Midwest regions. Her background also includes top sales positions at MTV, Millennial Media and People.com.
Matt Pfeffer, another Millennial veteran, will oversee East Coast sales operations in New York City. Pfeffer has also done stints at People.com, Ziff Davis and Golf.
Outside the U.S., Todd Tran -- formerly EMEA general manager of Apple’s mobile ad business -- was brought on to lead Rovio’s EMEA and APAC brand partnership team. Tran’s resume also includes launching a digital and mobile agency for WPP in Europe. Joining Tran’s group is Raphaelle Tripet, formerly of inMobi. She has held digital ad sales posts at Nokia Interactive Advertising and MEC.
In Angry Birds, the new beefed-up staff has a powerful brand of its own right to leverage. The entertainment phenomenon includes nine hit games, a YouTube channel with nearly 1 billion video views, a successful plush toy line, and an Angry Birds movie slated for a 2016 release.
Tobin told TechCrunch that Rovio plans to build on existing partnerships with McDonald’s (in China), Warner Bros., Campbell’s, M&M and others. Until now, the company has only run standard display ads in mobile and online through third-party networks. Angry Birds began running ads in 2011 in its iPhone and Android apps through mobile ad exchange Nexage.
Tobin suggested Rovio would develop more custom, or “native,” ad placements as well as integrated brand partnerships as part of its new ad push.