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Squawk! Angry Birds Credit Cards Launching Soon
Squawk! Angry Birds Credit Cards Launching Soon
By: Sneha Bokil-Paranjape

These days, it seems that not a week goes by that we don’t hear about Rovio branching out into other business concerns involving its extremely popular Angry Birds franchise. Just over a week ago, Rovio’s venture into jewelry making was announced, with its newly minted Mighty Eagle silver ring tossed into the limelight. Now, we have even more proof of Rovio’s extravagant ambition. The Finnish entertainment company is launching its avian projectiles onto the front sides of Russian credit cards.

Angry Birds, a popular mobile game which has been downloaded over 1 billion times is moving further away from its nest and landing on your credit cards.

The Russian commercial bank Promsvyazbank (PSB), in partnership with Internet Retail Solutions (Irsol) is set to release bank cards bearing the Angry Birds brand. Featuring the unmistakable likenesses of the feathered friends and their porcine nemeses, the special edition cards will be available beginning June 4 and will number around 100,000 only. Ivan Pyatkov, PSB’s Director of Retail Products and Technology Department, hopes that “customers will actively use this ‘plastic’ to pay for goods and services” and that initial demand will be high enough to warrant additional editions.

Said to be the first ever Russian-produced Angry Birds tie-in, the cards will carry the MasterCard seal. Each card will require an annual fee of 299 rubles for the first year and 499 rubles every year thereafter. One of the touted perks of owning an Angry Birds card is a 10 percent discount on all Angry Birds merchandise bought using the card in Rovio’s Internet store and its bricks-and-mortar resellers.

While Angry Birds merchandising invaded America long ago—they're on T-shirts, underwear and will soon have their own TV show. This, once again, falls into Rovio’s new found push to move away from a “video game only” business approach and more into a multimedia approach. They have a theme park, have acquired new studios and have a movie/cartoon in the works. They seem to really want to capitalize on the Angry Birds name and good public opinion while they still can to build a better brand.

This news follows Zynga's announcement of joining hands with American Express to create a pre-paid debit card that allows users to earn virtual Farmville dollars in exchange for real world purchases

"Our goal is to build and scale the blurring of the lines between the virtual world and the physical world”  Zynga CMO Jeff Karp.

The co-branded card also serves as a way for American Express to reach out to a lower income demographic, which is less likely to take advantage of its partnerships with Delta, Starwood, and Mercedes-Benz.

Dan Schulman, the President of AmEx's Enterprise Growth Group said that this card is the "perfect way for American Express to expand its franchise to become much more of an inclusive brand."

Zynga currently has 292 million active monthly users and 22.5 million of those use Farmville alone.

It begins when users plant the "Serve Money Tree" in the game. Players get virtual rewards when they sign up for a Serve account, when the card is activated, when they transfer money from a current bank account onto the card, when they make their first five $25 purchase and of course, when they harvest their money trees.

This isn't the first time AmEx and Farmville have formed a partnership. In 2010, AmEx gave Zynga players purple cows and other goodies thorough reward programs.

American Express has created ties with other social networks as well including Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare.

Meanwhile, let’s hope the Angry Birds use their slingshots but this time not to attack the pigs but to soon land on Indian users’ credit cards.