THE BIG INTERVIEW: Naz Cuevas, Executive Vice President, Global Consumer Products, Rovio Entertainment

Samantha Loveday

By Samantha Loveday

June 17th 2015 at 4:21PM
UPDATED June 18th 2015 at 10:50AM
THE BIG INTERVIEW: Naz Cuevas, Executive Vice President, Global Consumer Products, Rovio Entertainment

With a full-length 3D animated Angry Birds feature film slated for a May 2016 release and recently announced partnerships with LEGO, Spin Master and Macys, we talk to Rovio Entertainment about the journey from brand to franchise and its plans for the future.

It may have started out as a simple sketch, but 2.8 billion downloads and a raft of exciting high-profile partnerships later, Angry Birds is now a global gaming and entertainment franchise that shows no signs of slowing down. Despite being just five years old, the simple yet addictive gaming phenomenon has an incredible 90 per cent global brand awareness, which sees it competing in the same space as entertainment companies with decades of heritage behind them.

In fact Rovio has just announced a global partnership with LEGO that will see LEGO Angry Birds hit retail in spring 2016; Spin Master has just taken the toy rights for figures, environments, remote control and action games; and this year Angry Birds will make its debut in the iconic Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Day Parade as part of an exciting 3 year partnership.

These, says Naz Cuevas, EVP global consumer products, are “the first of many significant global licensing partnerships” that will be announced in the coming weeks that will ensure that Angry Birds fans remain one of the entertainment industry's most engaged audiences.

It's this commitment and consumer support that will see Team Rovio deliver the hugely anticipated Angry Birds movie next spring supported by a list of best in class partners who are queuing up to work with them. Set to hit big screens worldwide in May 2016, Angry Birds is being produced by Rovio Entertainment and distributed by Sony Pictures Entertainment which is also handling all film marketing.

This will be the first movie from the Angry Birds franchise, and as such is a significant landmark for the company.

“The movie underscores the evolution of the Angry Birds brand and does it in such a mischievous, exciting and unexpected way,” explains Cuevas. “It is simply the next step in our long-term commitment to becoming an all-encompassing entertainment company - while keeping games at our heart, of course.”

Rovio has full creative control of the movie, ensuring it remains true to what fans know and love about the brand. “The movie will take the Angry Birds into new places and across new generations,” Cuevas continues. “It’s an exciting opportunity to push boundaries and delight fans.”

The movie itself boasts an impressive cast that has already generated a great deal of industry attention, with big names including Jason Sudeikis (We're the Millers), Josh Gad (Frozen), Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids) and Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones). The star line-up doesn't stop there, with producer John Cohen (whose credits include Despicable Me, Ice Age and Robots) leading an exceptionally talented team of Hollywood writers, directors and producers all working together to bring the CG-animated movie to life.

While the movie might be its latest venture, the Angry Birds brand already has an established track record of storytelling. “Every piece of animation, every product and every game is made with fans in mind, so to be able to take these characters and adventures onto the big screen and offer such spectacular content is exciting.”

The property already delights fans consistently through a range of channels, such as the dedicated multi-platform broadcast channel Toons TV (the animated series has five billion views worldwide) and innovative mash-up collaborations and spin-off games like Angry Birds Star Wars, Angry Birds Transformers and Angry Birds Stella. These propositions strengthen Rovio's offering, allowing the company to drive awareness of its strong consumer products programme, reinforce its licensing strategy and highlight new opportunities.

“We look to build our brands with longevity, develop a licensing strategy that prioritises quality and innovation and work with leading partners that reflect our vision, dynamism and ambition,” explains Cuevas. “While our focus for 2016 will be to highlight opportunities for the Angry Birds movie, we'll also be looking to build on that excitement to expand on our consumer products programmes right across the franchise.”

With just under a year to go until launch, the response to the highly-anticipated movie is expected to increase game downloads, grow sales, drive traffic to Rovio's own entertainment channels and have a dramatic impact on the business as a whole.

Cuevas concludes: “Our movie goes beyond targeting just our hard core fans.  It really is a story that will delight and ultimately resonate with audiences of all ages around the globe.  It’s an exciting opportunity to push boundaries, make people laugh and maybe even change the way people think about Angry Birds.”