The Angry Birds merchandising juggernaut is now officially out of control
First it was the plush toys and the t-shirts. Then it was the movie. The creators of the world’s favourite game for mobile devices, Angry Birds, aren’t just brilliant game developers; they’re also shrewd merchandise licensors. But for anyone who suspects that this never-ending quest to milk a fad for all it’s worth knows no bounds, your suspicions have now been confirmed by the release of Angry Birds, The Cookbook.
What possible connection does this computer game franchise have with cooking, you might ask? Why, it’s a cookbook full of egg recipes! Of course! (Err.. hang on. As someone who will admit to having devoted a ridiculous amount of free time to flinging birds at pigs, even I needed to consult the Googles to remind myself exactly what Angry Birds has to do with eggs. Short answer: nothing I wouldn’t call “tenuous” in this context.)
Besides lots of hackneyed egg puns (“crack an egg or two and fling your awesome self to new levels of egg-cellence” – cue gag reflex) this cookbook features lots of recipes with funky names, such as “The Easy One”, “The Arriviste’s Choice” and “Make It or Break It”. A further glance at the table of contents will reveal these to be recipes for scrambled eggs, boiled eggs and poached eggs, respectively. Oh dear.
This really smells like a new low in cynical merchandising. It’s one thing to peddle branded paraphenalia (plush toys, t-shirts, coffee mugs, etc) which allows devotees to express themselves and revel in their fandom. It’s another thing entirely to stick your brand on every arbitrary consumer good that also happens to be trendy right now (cookbooks and, believe it or not, eggs).
The creators of Angry Birds appear to be unabashedly shameless in their quest for world merchandise domination. You can’t really blame them. As good as the game is, it’s a fad. The creators probably know that their baby is possibly just one new killer iPhone game away from becoming a thing of the past, so they’re just making hay while the sun shines. Their marketing strategists probably needn’t worry about organically building the brand’s “icon” status and maintaining long-term viability; because it’s a fad that’s destined to die, there’s really no risk of over-exposure or alienating users.
I can just picture the corporate strategy briefing: “It doesn’t matter how the money gets in our bank account, as long as lots of it gets in there and as soon as possible“. If I’m totally wrong about this and the creators aren’t just riding the Angry Birds gravy train for maximum short-term gains, then these guys are really going about things the wrong way.
At the end of the day there’s no real marketing deception going on here. So besides having no class, the creators of Angry Birds aren’t really guilty of anything. It reminds me of a situation several years ago when every sugary food item at the supermarket marketed at children had Shrek on the packet. The current Angry Birds merchandising phenomenon is less evil, and more simply, well, embarrassing for the human race because a significant part of Angry Birds’ target market appears to be adults. The fact that we consumers faithfully lap up every Angry Birds-branded gimmick that’s offered to us (no matter how crap, over-priced and tangentially related to Angry Birds) is probably the more disturbing aspect of this sorry marketing saga, and the point that historians will be drawing out in 500 years time when they are inevitably explaining the downfall of Western civilisation.
But a cookbook? Surely, SURELY we are too savvy to shell out our hard-earned cash for an Angry Birds-endorsed guide to scrambling eggs? This from a Guardian reader:
My girlfriend is an excellent cook and a “Birder”. Surely she will want this book. On the plus side, I may have just discovered the perfect x-mas gift for her.
Dude, if you and your girlfriend get your kicks learning how to boil an egg under some delusional pretense that it has something to do with Angry Birds, that’s fine by me. As the saying goes, “What the market wants, the market gets”. Or was that something about fools and their money? I forget.
In other cynical egg-related marketing news, I’m informed that the extremely irritating “What’s New” advertisements in Australia (you know, those paid informercials showcasing the latest products on the market) have started telling us all about “What’s New In… Eggs”. Apparently the news is that eggs aren’t just for breakfast, they’re for lunch, too. Is the world playing a joke on me? Seriously, because you can all stop now.