You know nothing, marketers.
Like Star Wars meets Frozen and just as bankable – Game of Thrones is the marketing gift that keeps on giving.
Fans got chills last week as winter finally arrived in the Seven Kingdoms bringing what is sure to be the most action-packed, violent and naked season yet.
In spite of the uphill struggle faced by the US TV network to curb illegal streams and downloads (The Drum reports there were 91.8 views across piracy platforms of Episode 1 alone), the Season 7 premiere bagged the highest ratings in the show’s history – with 16.1 million HBO subscribers tuning in live. Listen carefully and you can hear the sound of marketers rubbing their hands together.
As the Game of Thrones Season 7-inspired campaigns roll in thick and fast, we round up the best ones to date.
Tourism Ireland’s 77-metre tapestry
Good enough to adorn the walls of the Red Keep
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more imaginative and well-executed campaign than Tourism Ireland’s 77-metre long, Bayeux-style tapestry featuring key Game of Thrones scenes.
Devised by Publicis London to promote Northern Ireland as a set location for the series, the final tapestry will be woven at Tomas Ferguson’s – one of the last surviving linen mills in the country.
A new section of tapestry will be revealed each week to coincide with the latest episode. Posts on social media by Tourism Ireland direct fans to the full tapestry hosted online as interactive content – always appreciated here at JBH.
HBO’s Melting Ice Reveal
HBO went all out this year, ramping up its GoT marketing activity to fever pitch. There were ‘winterizing’ social clues and games on Twitter, Google and Reddit, Snapchat filters and White Walkers scaring the bejeezus out of tourists at a number of British landmarks. And let’s not forget the ice.
Back in March, the broadcaster put out a Facebook Live broadcast featuring a block of ice, which slowly melted away to reveal the season 7 premier date. Very slowly. Despite attracting 162,000 viewers, it lasted a whopping 69 minutes and was interrupted twice even then.
KFC: ‘Lunchtime is Coming’
Capitalising on the run-up to Season 7, fast-food giant KFC had some fun with one beloved character.
The advert ‘Lunchtime is Coming’ shows a KFC employee, played by actor Kristian Nairn in character as Hodor, waiting for a stream of overly eager patrons to storm the restaurant with their lunch orders.
Overwhelmed by hearing the same “chicken and fries” order, Hodor keeps repeating the same phrase as he is wont to do. Eventually, in his flustered state, he gets confused and says “chicken and rice” instead, thus unveiling KFC’s new product.
Duolingo High Valyrian Course
Daenerys needs friends to speak High Valyrian with – it could be you!
To coincide with the launch of Season 7, popular language-learning app Duolingo has launched a course in High Valyrian. Delivered in the same way as any other language course, the High Valyrian course teaches users the basics and nuances of the language spoken by Daenerys Targaryen in handy bitesize chunks.
As the last of the Targaryens and the last living descendant of Old Valyria, Daenerys is the only character to use High Valyrian on the show – with other characters using regional, less formal dialects
High Valyrian was developed by Game of Thrones language specialist David J. Peterson, with the grammar constructed around the two key phrases used in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series: “Valar Dohaeris” (“All men must serve”) and of course, “Valar Morghulis” (“All men must die”). Peterson also constructed the entire Dothraki language used in the show as well as a number of other key dialects.
In the run-up to the course being made available on Duolingo, the app published a message from Peterson – simply, “Valyrio Māzis”. Translation? “Valyrian is coming.”
Blinkbox’s 40-foot dragon skull
Many dinosaur fossils have been found on Chartmouth beach over the years. Lying on the Jurassic Coast, the natural beauty of the area gives it the appearance of something straight out of Game of Thrones, which proved handy back in 2013 when a giant dragon skull washed up on the beach. Or did it? Nahhhh, the highly-realistic, 40-foot dragon skull was an impressive PR stunt from Blinkbox (now Talk Talk TV) to promote the third season of the show. The story got worldwide coverage – a simple idea, brilliantly executed.
Viking ‘Spoiler Alert’ stickers
True to form, stationery company Viking came up with a practical, paper-based solution to a common office problem back in 2014. Picture the scene: you’re sitting at your desk, absent-mindedly entering gibberish on a spreadsheet, thinking about the lovely evening you have planned in front of the TV when the unthinkable happens. You overhear your colleagues talking about Robb Stark being stabbed to death by the Freys and the Boltons. But you’ve only just you’ve only just seen him crowned King in the North! Oh, the humanity. By allowing you to silently communicate exactly where you are in the series, Viking’s “Spoiler Alert” stickers allow fans to keep their office spoiler-free. A light, funny idea that shows just how much one TV show is having an impact on everyday life.
As GoT campaigns get ever more innovative – we look forward to see what brands will do with our favourite show next year for its eighth and final season.