Recent partnerships between Rovio and some of Finland’s most prestigious brands like Olvi, Fazer and Lappset have achieved tremendous success. However, exposure to Rovio’s fast-paced approach has also changed how these partner companies and others think about their respective businesses.
Rovio has a “why not?” spirit, explained Rovio CMO Peter Vesterbacka. “It’s part of how we do things at Rovio” he said, speaking on a panel during Slush 2012 in Helsinki, Finland. It’s this envelope-pushing mentality that drives the Angry Birds franchise to challenge long-established product development timelines to get new crossover products and others to market faster than ever before.
Rovio was not only founded but also maintains its headquarters in nearby Espoo. Thus, the panel focused on how Rovio’s success was bringing Finnish brands in particular to fly equally high. Vesterbacka was joined by Rovio Co-Founder Niklas Hed.
“Why choose Finnish companies to do this?” asked moderator Miki Kuusi of Startup Sauna about Rovio’s recent flurry of partnerships with local brands.
“We wanted to pick partners that can move very very fast,” said Vesterbacka. “It’s good business for us and good business for them” he added, and that having partners a short drive or plane ride away makes things easier, not to mention sharing the same time zone.
And Rovio’s partners agree. “You have to act like a startup,” added Juha Laakkonen, also on the panel and CEO of Lappset, the company responsible for helping launch Angry Birds‘ theme parks. “We have to be extraordinary to challenge Disney, so [we thought] let’s work with Rovio,” said Laakkonen while the company was considering the venture.
Pairing with Lappset made sense for Rovio. “We didn’t have $5 billion to put into a swamp outside Shanghai,” alluding to Disney’s activity in China. So Rovio decided to compete with a different model and build smaller, neighborhood-scale parks with the help of Lappset.
The “why not?” mentality is paying dividends. At Rovio’s behest, Hasbro’s Angry Birds Star Wars toys were developed at lightspeed compared to standard production schedules. Now they’ve become the US-based toymaker’s biggest selling products this year, Vesterbacka said.
When Rovio wanted to develop a new Angry Birds candy in just six months with Finnish candymaker Fazer it was said that it was not possible. “And we asked why not?” said Vesterbacka. The result became the best selling candy Fazer has made in their 125 year history, Vesterbacka added.
Ditto for Finnish beverage maker Olvi, whose Angry Birds beverages are now outselling Coke and Pepsi in Finland according to Vesterbacka. He also complimented Olvi on their commitment to the effort by dramatically increasing production and purchasing a new factory to make new drinks.
Text and image by Tuomas Sahramaa