Rovio Branding Exec Suddenly Flies the Coop

Rovio, the Finnish company that has been massively successful at building out a brand around its hit videogame title, Angry Birds, has lost its top branding executive.

Wibe Wagemans, who was SVP of global brand advertising, has suddenly left the company, according to sources.

Wagemans declined to comment, and Rovio did not immediately return emails seeking comment. UPDATE: A Rovio spokesperson confirmed Wagemans’ departure, but did not elaborate.

The loss is startling, given that Rovio has been considered the model for how to turn fictitious game characters into a megafranchise, ranging from plush toys to flip-flops, educational books to Hollywood movie titles.

Three weeks ago, Wagemans told me that Rovio has become one of the fastest-growing global consumer brands ever, beating out YouTube, Myspace, Skype and many others.

He said Rovio has 120 million monthly active users playing its games across Apple’s iPhone, Android and other platforms, such as Google’s new social game network. It has already passed 250 million mobile downloads.

He also recently appeared on stage at VentureBeat’s MobileBeat conference in San Francisco, where he reiterated the company’s plans to pass one billion downloads.

Prior to Rovio, Wagemans was an executive at Microsoft’s Bing.

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— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus