Rovio, the Finnish company behind the “Angry Birds” franchise, announced on Monday that Paul Chenier has been named as head of the Americas for the company’s brand partnerships and advertising team.
In that role, he will be responsible for all advertising in North America and Latin America, expanding Rovio’s direct sales force and developing new native ad formats. Chenier previously spent eight years at men’s lifestyle style site AskMen, most recently as vice president, national brand sales. IGN acquired the company in 2005.
Michele Tobin, vice president, brand partnerships and advertising at Rovio, said Chenier’s experience leading sales strategy for a premium publisher would benefit the entertainment company, especially in relation to his background in packaging and selling branded video.
Rovio, whose products now span mobile games, toys, animation, theme parks and film, saw a slowdown in growth last year. Following years of strong gains, revenue increased only 2.5% with the firm’s net profit nearly halved from 2012. Its licensing and merchandising business accounted for about half of its $216 million in revenue last year.
After shifting from a pay-to-play to a free-to-play business model for games since last year, Rovio has placed increasing emphasis on advertising and in-game purchases. To that end, it has rolled out a wider set of ad offerings, including 15-second pre-rolls for ToonsTV videos, sponsored in-game rewards and rich media placements billed as “native” to its dozen-plus games. But so far the ad push hasn’t boosted revenue growth.
Rovio first began building up its ad sales force in early 2013 in regions, including North America, Asia-Pacific and EMEA. In his new post, Chenier replaces Betsy Novak, who joined CraveOnline Media in August as VP, sales, west.
In August, the company announced Mikael Hed would step down as CEO in January 2015, naming former Nokia executive Pekka Rantala as his successor.