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Angry Birds playground has parents fuming

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Angry Birds playground has parents fuming
A file image of the Angry Birds game on a smartphone. File photo: Jonas Ekströmmer/TT
16:09 CET+01:00
Angry Birds-themed equipment at a playground in western Sweden has parents hopping mad that the city has subjected their children to unwanted marketing for the popular video game.

"What were officials at city hall thinking when they bought toys that give a well-known brand a chance to showcase their products among children?" parent Hannes Brage, 26, told the local Bohuslänningen newspaper.

Brage is one of several parents in Uddevalla who have expressed frustration that public funds for the upgrade a local playground in the Fasseröd neighbourhood were used to purchase a number of Angry Bird-themed items.

"Would McDonald's have been allowed to place Ronald McDonald there as a billboard?" wondered Brage.

While other parents were happy to have a newly-renovated playground, they expressed concern that the presence of swings, benches, and waste bins emblazoned with the colourful Angry Birds characters would create a desire among children to acquire their own Angry Birds-themed products.

Developed by Finnish gaming firm Rovio, Angry Birds has exploded in popularity since its 2009 release as an iPhone app. More than 12 million copies of the game have been downloaded, and the company has since released a slew of follow-up versions.

Rovio has also licensed the production of Angry Birds-themed merchandise ranging from candy to plush toys and books – as well as playground equipment.

The municipality spent between 500,000 to one million kronor ($75,000-$150,000) improving the playground, Agnetha Johansson of the Uddevalla parks department told the paper.

She insisted that the Angry Birds equipment was chosen only because officials thought it would make the park fun, adding that most of the feedback she'd received about the playground was positive.

Sweden has strict rules governing advertising directed at children. Television advertising of goods and services to children younger than 12 is prohibited.

Anna-Lena Heydar, the Social Democrat member of the local council, added her voice to the chorus of criticism directed at the Angry Birds playground, telling the Bohuslänningen she thought it was "unacceptable to have a playground that functions as product placement for a single company".

Local council member Zeidi Ström of the Moderate Party stopped short of criticizing the playground, explaining she didn't know what Angry Birds was, but added that future purchases would likely be reviewed more closely.

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