Farmville isnt the only popular video game cashing in on the branded credit card craze. Everyones favorite feathered characters, the Angry Birds, now have their own credit card as well. On June 4th, 50,000 credit cards featuring portraits of the games cast of petulant fowl made their way into the hands of Russian fans with 50,000 more expected to roll out by the year’s end. Its a landmark venture for developer Rovio, and one that theyre certain to test out on the American market in the near future.
If youve been to Wal-Mart lately, it should come as no surprise that Rovio has decided to expand their brand to the financial sector. Since Angry Birds first took off in December 2009, its Finnish developers have gone on a marketing rampage. There are now Angry Birds Halloween costumes, Angry Birds chalk bags for rock climbers and even Angry Birds theme parks. You cant walk into a department store without seeing at least one Birds-branded product. In 2011, Rovio sold more than $106 million in merchandise alone. Of course they were going to push their own piece of plastic. It was just a matter of time.
The new credit cards are issued by MasterCard through Promsvyazbank, Russias tenth-largest bank. They come in a variety of designs and are targeted towards urban 25- to 35-year-olds with an income of at least $1,000 a month. Interestingly enough, the cards will be the first Angry Birds-branded product in Russia. Though the game has been downloaded more than 10 million times by Russian fans, the adorable Bird plushies dont seem to have won over the hearts of Russian shoppers. Americans, on the other hand, are infatuated. Shameless consumption just isnt for everyone, we suppose.
And that brings us to the card itself. Since the Angry Birds card was first announced, our readers have been anxious to learn what the terms and rewards scheme would be. So lets break it down.
Expectedly, the card gives cardholders a 10% discount on all Angry Birds merchandise. Whether or not this discount applies to digital merchandise (like the content sold through the Facebook store) remains to be seen, but it does apply to all physical products, like flip-flops and Angry Birds Soda. But as far as additional rewards are concerned, the bad news is that there dont appear to be any. Besides the discount and a $15 annual service fee, the card is pretty much a standard consumer credit card. No cash back rewards, no discounts and no frequent flyer miles which, in our opinion, would have been a really clever idea.
Unfortunately, this lack of rewards will likely restrict the Angry Birds cards market appeal to obsessive collectors, die-hard fans and young consumers who are determined to have cooler stuff than their friends. Its the same problem that plagues American Expresss Farmville Card, which we reviewed last week. The concept is great and the marketing is genius (you have to give AmEx credit for the Money Tree gimmick), but the incentives just arent there. Its almost as if the credit companies dont know how close they are to dominating their product category with these pop-culture cards.
We would ditch our Citi ThankYou Preferred cards in an instant if we could find a video-game-themed card that offered a competitive rewards package and spending limit.
Fortunately, it shouldnt be long before card companies realize their marketing mistake and start rolling out a card targeted at pop-culture geeks with an excellent credit rating. After all, theres already a growing demand for expensive geek swag. It only seems appropriate that Americas nerdy consumers be granted the ability to purchase our erm, their fantasy-novel-themed chess sets with credit cards featuring the worlds most popular video-game personalities. Until that day comes, though, it looks like card companies are just going to continue to tease us by slapping our favorite characters onto subpar products. Shame on you, card companies, for playing us like that.