Angry Birds Take Up Space in Walmart

Mar 23, 2012

In a September 2011 RetailWire poll, many respondents (59 percent) thought the Angry Birds franchise would have two years or less before becoming yesterday’s fad. If that turns out to be so, the game’s maker and Walmart won’t be criticized for not trying to make the most out of Angry Birds mania while it was in full force.

According to reports, Walmart and Rovio, the maker of Angry Birds, have signed a deal for the retailer to sell the brand’s merchandise, including clothing, food, mobile phones and plush toys, in all its stores in the U.S. As part of the launch of the new Angry Birds Space game, Walmart will be able to receive up to four "golden eggsteroid" clues on how to reach bonus levels. The first clue was delivered via Walmart’s Facebook page and the balance will be found on merchandise sold by the retailer.

"Walmart is bringing fun back to the shopping experience, with interactive merchandise that brings the best of digital gaming together with in-store retail," Seong Ohm, senior vice president and general merchandise manager for entertainment, Walmart U.S., said in a statement. "By partnering with Rovio, we’re able to give millions of avid bird slingers bonus content by coming into our stores and shopping our broad assortment of Angry Birds Space merchandise."

Rovio is seriously upping its exposure at retail with the Walmart promotion. The brand marketer has a similar, albeit much smaller, deal with Barnes & Noble. According to Reuters, Barnes & Noble operates dedicated sections for Angry Birds merchandise in its 691 bookstores in the U.S.

Discussion Questions: What do you think of the strategy behind the Walmart/Angry Birds promotion? Will this type of exclusive deal become more common in retailing in the years ahead and, if so, what will it mean for retailers not named Walmart, Target, etc.?

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10 Comments on "Angry Birds Take Up Space in Walmart"

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Ryan Mathews

I think it means that — to use a mixed biological metaphor — the angry birds have jumped the shark.

Does the target Angry Birdster really shop at Walmart? I’m not so sure. The notion of exclusive — or semi-exclusive — tie-ins isn’t new, but it can be fraught with peril. Just ask all those companies that tied-in to Godzilla 2000!

Obviously, larger retailers will always have an edge in this game since they will be in position to offer the largest licensing, promotional. etc., fees. For smaller retailers, playing Angry Birds may be better than stocking them.

Ken Lonyai

Strategy? Strike while the iron is hot. You sell whatever is on people’s minds and ride the popularity curve for as much cash as possible.

This isn’t the start of any big trend. It’s like getting free music downloads from soda bottle caps.

Al McClain
Al McClain
5 years 6 months ago

This “exclusive” offer good for Walmart shoppers only!

Anne Howe

I cannot tell you how many parents I have seen hand off a smart phone to a child to play Angry Birds as a way to keep the child distracted while the parent accomplishes something, like shopping or even eating at a restaurant.

I am guessing Walmart is trying to keep all of its shoppers thinking about gaming; it’s a huge market and the fight for share of wallet is a high stakes opportunity.

Handing off any item of Angry Birds merchandise to a kid to keep him happy in a store will usually work (for a time, anyway). Providing a “clue benefit” for either kid or parent to use is a good idea. Delivering the first clue on Facebook is a no-brainer.

I also like the T-Mobile add on, which offers shoppers who buy a new Android smartphone access to a portal to download the new Space game and get access to a hidden level of play.

I think this is a good example of effective shopper marketing. I just wonder what the snack food is.

Angry Birds Goldfish?

Ben Ball

Is it just me? Or does this look like a slightly strained Target imitation?

Carol Spieckerman

This is a significant move on a number of levels. A few months ago, I noted that Walmart had begun to include mentions of licensed programs in its public success stories (a back-to-school Hello Kitty backpack program, for example), and that many of the items in these programs are positioned at the “value” level rather than as premium brand programs. Walmart is getting really good at harnessing the power of entertainment properties through limited exclusives (e.g., Justin Bieber’s My Worlds) and movie release events (Twilight). In the past, licensed programs have been a hit-or-dud proposition for retailers, licensors and licensees, and success relied on program duration. Walmart is turning that model on its ear. As @walmartlabs layers on ever more sophisticated social shopping capabilities, these programs will be poised to take full advantage of hype, pent-up demand and social-fueled buzz within limited windows of time (while its still hot).

Walmart as a brand machine? Yep.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.

Could be fun for the avid Angry Bird fans if they are willing to go Walmart for clues and, oh by the way, shop there for anything else. If this is a market Walmart is trying to attract, it may be a good way to get them in the store. I am not sure how much shopping the kids who have to be entertained at the restaurant actually do, however.

Charles P. Walsh
Charles P. Walsh
5 years 6 months ago

This is a solid strategy, though I admit that Walmart took a bit of a risk in the scope and scale of the product throughout the store.

This isn’t a new approach that Walmart is taking and often ties up licenses as they relate to movie and video releases. If they are able to gain exclusives with certain properties then it is to their advantage to exploit them, however, there is always peril in “how much” and for “how long.”

Walmart may have pioneered the approach in 1996 when they were the exclusive marketer of the Turbo-Man Action Figure from the holiday movie “Jingle All the Way” with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

This is an effective approach to marketing and I anticipate that we’ll see no end to these APP driven license deals in future.

Robert DiPietro

Tactical decision at best; just jumping on the bandwagon. This train has already left the station.

Kai Clarke

No. This is just a temporary fad. Walmart is simply taking advantage of the opportunity to sell licensed merchandise while it is hot.


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