Olli Laamanen always knew that he was meant for a creative industry. For a while, that meant working as a freelance animation director and editor—where he was able to hone his skills through everything from drawn animation to stop-motion puppetry. However, tired of the gig economy (which often necessitated working side jobs), he made the leap from lone wolf in Turku to Rovio’s offices in Helsinki. There, not only was he met with an office environment he generally can’t wait to return to, he was given the opportunity to further hone his creative skills, and learn even more.
Here Laamanen breaks down how he moved from animation to marketing—and what keeps him excited to go to work every day.
Can you explain your job title, product marketing manager?
True to the name, a product marketing manager is a person who manages all aspects of marketing of a product in any given field. In digital entertainment or games, that means deciding what marketing actions we are going to take, planning how to do them, and then aligning with all the responsible parties to make all projects get done. Other than setting timelines and agreeing on deliverables, that could involve reaching out and just getting people excited about projects, maybe pitching for their resources internally, and then presenting the outcomes. Product marketing management means I try to get something, and make it the coolest thing out there.
What is your work background?
I was always interested in marketing, because people are exposed to marketing from a young age. Still, I didn’t think of becoming a marketer for quite some time. I grew up being interested in music, art, reading – fantasy novels, and stuff like that. So, I wanted to follow a more creative path. That path led me to study animation, and eventually land a position in Rovio’s animation studio. By that time, Angry Birds had become a global hit, and Rovio wanted to develop the Angry Birds world. In a year or two, it would be the biggest animation studio in Scandinavia. It really was a second school of animation for me because I worked with so many talented people from all over, who taught me a lot.
How did you transition into marketing?
During my animation years at Rovio, I had transitioned into producing. And then when the animation unit closed, I started in games marketing, producing marketing assets like ads, stuff like that. The product marketers I worked with back then really inspired me and I was like, “Hey, this is really cool!” A bit later in 2018, there was a situation where there were some changes in our team that created an open position in product marketing. Our product marketing director said “this game needs a product marketing person, would you like to try it?” So I took them up on their offer and made the jump into product marketing.
It was a big decision to make, but there were two main factors that made me believe that this was the right move for me. First was that I really love the games we make, and working as a product marketing manager means I work very closely with the games. I can get a bit more involved than I was when producing marketing assets. The second part is that it’s the best feeling to inspire people and get people excited about stuff. That’s the magic bit of product marketing that I love—when you really get people on board.
What does your day to day work schedule look like?
When you are leading the marketing of a stable existing title, day-to-day can be very structured and very manageable, but at this moment, we are planning the global launch of the next generation of slingshot games – Angry Birds Journey. We are planning a big Facebook marketing campaign, and a marketing campaign for the USA. So today, my schedule was filled with meetings and tasks involved with managing a big project with all the stakeholders. We have our static assets for all global markets in production, and a social media trailer being produced, and other video assets. We are planning TV ads and huge podcasting campaigns in the US. We are planning influencer campaigns. So, it’s a lot of managing projects with deadlines, deliverables, and keeping marketing messaging consistent throughout different channels. We’re always observing the performance of what we’re putting out there so we can make small changes to make things more relevant – considering the season and changing the app store storefront to reflect the seasonality for example, and also doing limited marketing campaigns to reflect in-game events. On the consumer-facing level of a product, it’s making sure everything is nice and inviting, and making sure that the value proposition is clear for any potential players that we might attract.
Were you a fan of gaming before coming to Rovio?
I traveled in the US a lot as a kid, and when we were there, we would always buy computer games. I’m from more of a PC background than console games. We would always buy those from the big malls that we didn’t have in Finland at the time, and we would cherish them.
How has working at Rovio surprised you?
It’s gone from like a passionate group of friends, like a small family company, to this publicly traded, quite established gaming company with workers from all around the world. But the culture of Rovio has remained extremely nice. We have had awesome parties, hobby groups and things like that, like our basketball team, the Rovio Red Birds. It’s a nice company to work for. And also, certainly in some of the past years, when people have had life events, like they get married or they have a kid or something, we have really taken time to celebrate our colleagues.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
Gaming! When Rovio launched Battle Bay in 2017, I really got into co-op multiplayer, and I was really dedicated to my guild. I remember taking a trip to Boston and desperately searching for a café nearby with WIFI so I can get to my daily chats and say hi to my guild mates. Since many of my guildmates were based in the US, I was like actually, “hey guys, if you’re available, let’s meet up at the park. Like an IRL multiplayer match.” They couldn’t attend that time, but it’s amazing how you can create friendships through games that transcend gaming. You meet people from different countries and you stay in touch. So, that’s also pretty incredible! I think anyone who plays a game with guilds like Battle Bay experiences that, where the game becomes like the Facebook or the Instagram of those people in that community. In our guild discord we would discuss game related stuff of course, but we would also share a lot about our lives, and we have really gotten to know each other. I like that games have the ability to bring people together like that.
Olli is the product marketing manager for Angry Birds Journey – a fresh and super accessible entry in Rovio's portfolio of slingshot based Angry Birds games. Interested in joining the team? Take a look at the open positions below!
(Senior) Game Artist