Angry Birds Pummel Pigs, Understand Collaboration

By now, most people are familiar with Angry Birds, the simple trajectory-based mobile game about birds that can’t fly crashing into green pigs with mustaches and helmets. This game is so incredibly popular that it made the Guinness World Records for being the most downloaded paid app in most countries across the globe. There were over 30 million downloads worldwide, with over 10 million on an Apple device, and over 7 million on Android. According to Rovio Mobile, the creators of Angry Birds , an average of 65 million minutes of Angry Birds are being played every day just on an iOS device.

But that’s not what this post is about. I’d like to focus on another area where Rovio Mobile excels: collaboration.

Angry Birds picture

There are at least four ways where Rovio Mobile teaches us about the art of collaboration. This is a concept we strive for in government, but there are often barriers that keep us from achieving it in an effective manner. The examples below aren’t things that government can replicate, but they do show an inspiring level of creativity and innovation, turning seemingly far-fetched partnerships into relationships that simply make sense.

1. Collaborate with the entertainment industry – Rio the Movie

What does a simple game about birds sling-shotting themselves at green pigs have to do with an animated film about rare macaws getting kidnapped by exotic bird smugglers? Besides feathers, not much. But Rovio Mobile was creative enough to merge the two plotlines into Angry Birds Rio, a re-invention of the game replacing the snorting pigs with caged exotic birds. The creators were able to create a new theme filled with new challenges without compromising the playability of the original concept.

This was a big win for both Angry Birds and Rio the movie, allowing Rovio Mobile to crank out a new reason for fans to throw another $0.99 at the company.

2. Collaborate with the advertising industry – Microsoft Bing

Another shrewd move by Rovio Mobile was to create four short YouTube episodes cleverly integrating Microsoft Bing’s search engine into a retelling of the Angry Birds story. In the first episode, the hungry pigs pull out a smart phone and use Bing to search “how to get eggs.” In episode two, the pigs use Bing to map the location of the eggs. In episode three, the birds counter with a search of their own. And the last episode has a brilliant ending (no spoilers here).

This was definitely a win for both parties because Rovio Mobile was able to introduce a new element into the simple plot, adding enough of a twist to warrant a new video without appearing redundant.

3. Collaborate with the philanthropic industry – BirdLife International

On a blog post in April, Rovio Mobile gave a plug for BirdLife International, a group founded to save the world’s most threatened birds from extinction. Rovio Mobile showed its philanthropic side, promoting awareness of a group dedicated to the conservation of birds, habitats and biodiversity. This was definitely a good PR move, getting hundreds of Likes and positive comments on its blog post.

And for bonus points, Rovio Mobile left a clue on BirdLife’s website for a secret level to be revealed in an Angry Bird update. This definitely got fans excited to browse through BirdLife’s website, digging for the Easter egg.

4. Collaborate with the smartphone industry – Nokia N8 smarthphone

Rovio Mobile partnered with fellow Finnish company Nokia to promote the new N8 smartphone by holding an Angry Birds contest to be played on the new device. The events were a huge success, drawing over 2600 players with 32 finalists. The winner was a 19 year old student who received a new Nokia N8 smartphone and a trip to Hollywood to visit Fox studios, the producers of Rio the Movie.

This was indeed a win for both parties, mobilizing their dedicated Finnish fan base while promoting a new device for a company who desperately needed a boost in the smartphone market.

Through these examples, Rovio Mobile displayed creative ingenuity to form incredibly powerful and profitable partnerships with organizations with not much more than feathers in common (except the Nokia example). Again, I’m not saying this is something we can reproduce in government, but this does inspire me to think outside the box and look for collaborative opportunities that benefit all stakeholders.

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Andrew Krzmarzick

/Great post! Surprised to not see any comments yet as you open up some interesting opportunities for government to market via non-traditional partnerships. For instance:

1 – Government and Entertainment: What if FEMA or EPA collaborated with a movie in which there was an environmental or natural disaster, then encouraged people to analyze scenarios or scenes from the movie via some kind of contest: Are you prepared for this kind of scenario? How would you respond? How can government respond more effectively? It gives citizens a powerful / popular situation that they can consider should it happen for real.

2 – Government and Advertising: Just as you described and tied to the idea I proposed in #1, could government create a similar “choose your own adventure” scenario?

3 – Government and Philanthropy: Given the fact that government essentially partners with non-profits via grants and awards, it seems like there is more that they could to emphasize these relationships and advance the cause of the organizations they support.

4 – Government and Smartphone: Lots going on here already…see as well as contests and collections of State and Local Apps.

What are your ideas…or what is already happening that are good examples?

Jon Lee

Hi Andrew, thanks for the thorough comment. For collaboration opportunities, I’ve been thinking a lot about what we represent, not just what we do. Gov agencies are very focused on activities, but we all work in industries with a lot of organizations that can contribute a lot more than what we can do single-handedly. Don’t have any concrete examples though. Would love to hear some from other community members.

Heidi Sheppard

Opportunities for government to collaborate with industry but what about opportunities for government to collaborate amongst its own agencies? For example, the E-3 initiative amongst EPA, DOE, DOL, DOC/MEP, SBA which combines the capabilities of each agency to support environmental sustainability within US Manufacturers.

The INEAP is working on such collaborative efforts. Come to our next meeting!