Rovio Beefs Up Global Advertising Team With Hires From Apple, Millennial Media, And inMobi

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As Rovio plans its entry into the cartoon business, the company has announced a round of new hires that will comprise its revamped Brand Advertising Partnership team, making the Finnish-based gaming company “a direct media partner to some of the largest brands in the world.”

“Our new Brand Advertising Partnership Team in the U.S. will enable us to now partner directly with other lifestyle brands,” said Michelle Tobin, Head of North American Brand Advertising Partnerships, in the release. “The model of simply placing standard display ads in online and mobile properties is not necessarily strategic for the majority of tier one brands, and that model was in need of disruption. Rovio´s fan-first approach and engaged audience creates more native, integrated advertising experiences that more closely align to brands’ overall marketing goals.”

The new team includes two senior hires in the U.S., Betsy Flounders Novak who has more than 20 years of experience in TV, mobile and digital advertising, and Matt Pfeffer who is joining Rovio from Millennial Media, one of the top mobile advertising companies in the U.S. Novak will be heading up the West and Midwest, based in LA, while Pfeffer will be running East Coast operations from New York.

The company is also bringing on new ad executives in the EMEA and Asian regions, with Todd Tran (formerly the EMEA General Manager of Apple’s mobile advertising business, responsible for launching iAd in Europe) coming on as Head of EMEA and APAC Brand Advertising Partnership team. Raphaelle Tripet will also join the EMEA/APAC team from inMobi.

We reached out to Rovio about more detail on the lifestyle brands Rovio is cultivating partnerships with, and Michelle Tobin explained that partnerships with McDonald’s (in China), Warner Brothers, Campbell’s, M&M’s and many more are already established and flourishing.

“The company has previously only offered advertising through third party networks for standard display,” said Tobin. “Now, the new team will not only offer mobile/online display opportunities, but they will feel more native and will provide deeper fan-first integrated ad experiences. For example, the new team can offer in-game advertising as well as integrated brand partnerships leveraging characters outside the game. McDonald’s used them in their television commercials, point of purchase, etc.”

Rovio is looking to leverage its massive fanbase across all areas of its business, including its 9 smash-hit mobile games (most notably Angry Birds), its merchandise, its animations via YouTube, activity parks, beverages, books and the list goes on.

The company has also confirmed that its working on a series of animated shorts based on Angry Birds characters, which should debut in the spring. The company’s CEO Mikael Hed said recently that the distribution channel will likely not be through your average TV broadcast network.

We have no further details on just how the shorts will make their way to Rovio’s fans, but it could have something to do with the Rovio YouTube channel, which has topped almost 1 billion viral views, or the shorts could come by way of the apps themselves, which have seen over 1 billion downloads and has 263 million MAUs, as of December 2012.