‘Angry Birds Action’ Game Uses Augmented Reality to Promote Movie, Brand Tie-Ins

Rovio, the company behind hit mobile game “Angry Birds,” is set to release a new game ahead of the debut of “The Angry Bird Movie.” The game, “Angry Birds Action,” isn’t simply a tie-in with the movie but rather a marketing tool that cleverly harnesses the franchise’s line of merchandise for an extensive augmented-reality promotion — to let fans virtually interact with the characters.

“We wanted to create something new and something that breached the digital and physical world,” said Rovio VP of games Miika Tams.

The “Angry Birds Action” game acts as a prequel to the movie, set to hit theaters May 20. Justin Chacona, digital marketing director for Rovio, said that the company’s first goal was to create a game that was fun and could stand on its own. It also wanted to create something that would complement the moviegoing experience, which is where Rovio’s “BirdCodes” enter the picture.

More than two dozen BirdCodes are planted across Angry Birds merchandise and promotional materials, all of which can be scanned through the “Angry Birds Action” game to unveil the augmented-reality bonuses and mini-games. Rovio is working with Zappar, an augmented-reality platform provider, to release some 1 billion BirdCodes for the promotion.

Rovio’s AR executions include scanning the instructions for one of the Angry Birds Lego sets to create a virtual replica that you can interact with, and a BirdCode on one of the movie posters that reveals a 360-degree interactive hut with all of the movie’s characters that you can manipulate and take photos and selfies with.

In addition, game players can access a Whac-a-Mole-style mini-game by scanning BirdCodes on McDonald’s Happy Meals, drink cups, wrappers and trayliners; a mini-game starring Red, Chuck or Bomb by scanning designs on H&M apparel; and the ability to fling virtual PEZ candies at pigs by scanning the codes on “Angry Birds Movie” PEZ dispensers.

The most interesting BirdCode is hidden in the end credits of “Angry Birds Movie.” Triggered by an inaudible watermark in the audio of the end credits, the game will unlock the notorious pigs — providing an incentive for fans to actually go see it in cinemas: “It’s truly a game-changer,” Tams said.

The hidden credits watermark will also activate an end-credits scene: think the after-credits scenes popularized by Marvel, but without having to sit in the theater for an extra five minutes.

“This is a very, very big program but we think it is a wonderful complement to the experience of the film,” Chacona said. “We feel everything together builds a very cool and very unique experience that we haven’t seen before.

“Angry Birds Action,” developed by Tag Games, is available as a free-to-play download with optional in-app purchases. “The Angry Birds Movie,” animated by Sony Pictures Imageworks, features a voice cast that includes Peter Dinklage, Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Kate McKinnon, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph, Keegan-Michael Key and Sean Penn.

Watch the trailer for “Angry Birds Action”:

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