There would be no Rovio as we know it without the Angry Birds. A mobile gaming trailblazer, the brand rocketed to success in 2009 with the launch of the first Angry Birds game. Rovio catapulted off of the success of Angry Birds, creating a string of follow up games, engaging in some novel partnerships, and branching into licensed products, publishing, animation, and later Hollywood movies, that turned Angry Birds into a household name.
Today, Rovio continues to craft joy for players with the Angry Birds brand in its games, which are played by over 7.3 million active players every day, and licensing activities with partner IMG. All of this together has earned Angry Birds a community of millions of engaged fans.
Carrying the torch of the Angry Birds brand is Head of Brand Operations, Eeva Aaltonen, who oversees projects related to Angry Birds, and leads the charge to decide the future of the brand. Read more about Eeva and her work in the full interview below.
What do you do?
In short, I would say that I’m in charge of all the operations related to the Angry Birds brand. That could be team and project management, partnerships and roadmaps, and PR and budgeting to mention a few.
That mainly consists of making sure our projects run smoothly from point A to point B, that everyone knows what they’re doing and what we are trying to achieve, and that we meet our goals. In addition to being on top of all of the brand projects, I’m also the team lead in the brand team. Being a team leader also includes a lot of people management stuff such as career development for the team members so that’s a very big part of it.
The big project we’re working on now is the Angry Birds brand strategy. So deciding where we want to take the brand in the next year and beyond. That includes developing and documenting our tone of voice, defining our objectives, building a roadmap, and finding partners that can help us do that.
There have also been some game partnerships in the last year like with Minecraft and Roblox, and the Rovio Classics: Angry Birds launch that I have helped to coordinate.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
It’s really a unique position to be in, working with such a well known brand and actually being a part of deciding its future. I think in general, my favorite part is being able to solve the puzzle of how we create a brand that people can fall in love with all over again after being around for 13 years. It’s exciting that I get to be a part of it.
What was your perception of the Angry Birds brand before joining Rovio? How has it changed?
I came to Rovio from outside the games industry, but living in Finland, Angry Birds is like a national treasure so my perception of Angry Birds was a positive one.
My perception of the Angry Birds brand hasn’t changed that much since joining Rovio, but now I have seen firsthand how fans engage with the brand. We have a lot of extremely loyal and dedicated fans and I’ve seen how much the brand means to them. It’s exciting to see how we can really bring a bit of joy to their lives with the brand initiatives and games we’re working on, and it really makes me want to grow this community as much as possible so more people can feel that joy as well.
What are your favorite moments from your time at Rovio so far?
One of my favorites is launching Angry Birds on Minecraft. It was my first big launch at Rovio, and I was in my first few months working in the gaming industry in general, so I got to learn a lot right from the start. Working with two household names like Angry Birds and Minecraft was a big challenge and it was a lot of work, but I’m really happy with how it turned out.
Another one was renewing our social media strategy in 2022. We did a lot of work in the team to understand the state of the brand and what we want to achieve. That was a very pivotal moment for the team to build our strategy and then working together every day towards our goals.
What is your biggest goal when it comes to the Angry Birds brand?
Our biggest aspirational goal would be to see Red, our most recognizable character, to become a sort of mascot for mobile gaming. Red has been a visible figure in mobile games since the very beginning, and there are few other characters in mobile gaming that can claim that kind of pedigree, if any. So we’re working to raise Red’s profile and making the Angry Birds brand more relevant to audiences that are a bit older, and that might not have necessarily grown up playing Angry Birds.
Also, Angry Birds has been a pop culture touchpoint with regards to mobile gaming, with references to the brand popping up in TV and movies, name dropped by celebrities, and so on. So that is something that we would like to develop as well, pop culture relevance.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
I don’t know if I would call it a challenge, but Angry Birds is in a unique position as a brand that is already well recognized by people around the world. As opposed to working with a new brand that is focussed on increasing awareness, working with Angry Birds is more about making people fall in love with a brand that they are likely already familiar with. While Angry Birds is fortunate to have that high global awareness, it comes with its own challenges as well.
Have you always wanted to work in games?
Actually yes. I always had this idea in my head that I would like to work in the game industry, mostly because I have always admired the strong sense of community that develops around games. But working at Rovio actually combines two dreams of working in the games industry and also working in brand management for a global brand. So Rovio combines those two elements, which is perfect for me. But yes, it has been a somewhat of a lifelong dream of mine
Have games always been a part of your life?
I grew up playing console games with my family. Our first console was a Sega Megadrive and later we got into Nintendo consoles as well. Lots of memories playing Super Smash Bros on Nintendo 64. Later we got a PlayStation and played a lot of sports games. FIFA, NHL, things like that. It’s still nice to dust off the old Megadrive from time to time. It’s currently at our mökki at the moment so that’s a great time to bond with family over some nostalgic old games.
Nowadays, it’s mainly free to play mobile games, and this is in no way a paid collaboration or influenced by where I work, but Angry Birds Dream Blast is a current favorite.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Gymnastics was a big part of my life for a long time. I did aesthetic group gymnastics competitively for over 20 years. I actually consider it like my first career before going to university. I’m still involved in gymnastics, and I like to stay active – long distance running, tennis, skiing, sailing. I like to go to the gym. I guess you could say that sports are still a big part of my life. Other than that, I try to make reading and music part of my everyday life. Reading is a great way to unwind and get immersed in another world or learn something new. I also love to sing, and luckily, we have a practice space in our Espoo office and an amazing house band of Rovians that gets together to play music when everyone has time.