Shakira is the latest music star to appear in a mobile game, although in her case she is fluttering into an established franchise, rather than following Katy Perry, Britney Spears and Nicki Minaj in striking a deal to launch her own.
Fluttering is the right word, too: Shakira is now a playable character in Angry Birds Pop, the mobile puzzle game from Finnish developer (and Angry Birds inventor) Rovio Entertainment.
What’s more, “Shakira Bird” will be taking her never-fibbing hips to two other Angry Birds games in the coming months: Angry Birds Friends and the recently-launched Angry Birds 2.
The partnership apparently stemmed from a meeting between Shakira and Rovio’s marketing boss Peter Vesterbacka earlier this year in Barcelona.
“Just like everybody at Rovio loves games, Shakira loves music. Within five minutes it was very clear that we had to do something together,” said Vesterbacka in a statement.
“I’m really happy to see the first result of our collaboration. The team has done a fantastic job in designing the new bird. But as they say in Casablanca, this is only the beginning of a beautiful friendship… with 3 billion copies of Angry Birds games out there and with the massive fan base of Shakira, you can be sure the planet will know about it.”
Rovio has been enduring some tough times recently: in August, the company announced plans to cut up to 260 staff, admitting that it had expanded too fast after Angry Birds’ initial success. This, after 110 redundancies in late 2014 for similar reasons.
The company’s revenues fell by 9% in 2014: despite making 16.3% more money from its games, its toys and merchandise sales dropped by 43.4%. Angry Birds 2 – now with Shakira – is part of its comeback strategy, with the game having been downloaded 30m times in the first two weeks after its launch in July.
What’s unclear for now is whether Shakira’s appearance is just about branding, or whether there’ll be concrete links to her music (or perhaps just as likely, to her charitable activities). The Angry Birds games could certainly provide a launchpad – or, rather, a launch catapult – for her next album.
This is Rovio’s second partnership with a major music act, following its hookup with Green Day in 2012. The band got their own episode in Angry Birds Friends, complete with piggy villains based on band members Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool.
In January that year, Rovio’s then-CEO Mikael Hed told the Midem music industry conference that Rovio was keen for partnerships with labels and artists. “It is possible to promote music content through our apps as well,” he said at the time.
One way Shakira’s content could be promoted is through the ToonsTV section in the Angry Birds apps: Rovio’s portal for shortform video that has generated billions of views of cartoons and children’s shows.