Did you know that Angry Birds has thus far been downloaded over 1.9bn times, putting it in the hands of almost 1/3rd of the world’s population? Truly astonishing, and hats off to Finland’s finest.
As a curious brand person I wondered what was the secret of their unbelievable success. How did they manage to turn flying fowl into a worldwide phenomenon bigger than Manchester United? What was the magic potion?
I sensed that they have played a very smart hand indeed. Their monthly user base of 263m is second only to Facebook, and as I write over 400bn birds have been shot.
They have clearly done plenty extremely well.
They crafted the game well – learning as they did from at least 30 previous games before hitting the jackpot.
They’ve recruited well – securing Accel in 2011 has provided cash, momentum and expertise. They’ve monetised the core product well – each in-game upgrade is increasingly successful.
They’ve innovated well, eg Star Wars themes and location-based gameplay.
They have extended the brand wisely and well, taking in books, learning, drinks, retail, activity parks and an impending full-length film release.
And they’ve partnered well – from Slash to McDonalds to NASA.
This is all very well, but does it explain the success of a property that is currently the fastest growing consumer franchise ever?
I think not.
Like most mega-mega-properties (those that even my mum has heard of), I suspect that the biggest single contributor to worldwide success and untold fortune was…..luck.
Lady luck has shone brightly in Finland since 2009. Rovio didn’t plan for the iPhone to be the runaway platform it became. It didn’t plan for Apple UK to promote the game in the early days of the app store. David Cameron’s admission of his bird habit was not in the PR plan.
But to be fair, were the Rolling Stones ever the best band in the world? Or did they arrive with an anti-establishment message during a perfect storm of social change?
Or would Oasis have ever been so shatteringly important without the fortuitous foil of Blur?
For all the expert delivery of a winning strategy, and the onions & pyramids that so many brand people peddle, it is usually a massive and unscheduled dollop of luck - being in the right place at the right time – that turns something good into something priceless.