Game of Thrones may be over, but we probably haven’t seen the last of the gigantic marketing apparatus built up around the show. With the controversial final season now behind us, it’s a perfect time to take a look at the good, bad, and ridiculous advertising efforts tied in with the series over its decade run.
What could be better for publicity than letting an oversized zombie murder your mascot? Budweiser took the chance, pitting their Bud Light Knight against The Mountain in a jousting contest that ends with that iconic skull crushing move debuted in season four. Then a dragon shows up and roasts the spectators alive. Not to fear though, the beer hero gets resurrected in a later ad.
In other news, Ikea reported an enormous, almost 500% increase in social media engagement after running an ad campaign during the series. Rather than licensing a Game of Thrones bad guy to kill off their characters, Ikea simply ran part of their usual ongoing campaign during a slot in the final season. The brand also enjoyed some attention after it went viral that their sheepskin rug was used in producing Jon Snow’s costume. Ikea released a cheeky graphic in the style of their assembly instructions that would usually accompany a hex wrench and a bag of screws, showing how to craft the fur garment from a rug and a pair of scissors.
It’s not just for-profit corporations that have found value in associating with the brutal aesthetic of Game of Thrones. The American Red Cross has been very successful with its “Bleed for the Throne” campaign, which saw drives collecting more than ten times the typical number of blood donations. At their SXSW event, the experience included volunteers dressed up as characters from the show, a choir singing an original theme song written for the campaign, and spaces designed to look like sets from the show. The partnership appears to have been a success both for HBO, who wanted to use the popular platform to do something positive, and the charity, which has seen slowing donation rates in recent years.
OkCupid took ridiculous Game of Thrones based marketing to the next level with just one tweet: “The sixth love language is texting them Game of Thrones GIFs.” The online dating company also created profile badges for fans to take their commitment to the next level, beyond the two million members who had already mentioned a preference for the show in their profiles. For hardcore fans who are conducting their romantic prospecting in a more traditional fashion, Adidas released a limited edition line of shoes showing off affiliations with various factions from the series. Alternatively, sporting your House Lannister sneakers in the wrong part of town might be a recipe for trouble, though it’d be hard to match the savage disappointments suffered by Lannister fans in the final season.
There you have it, the most notable marketing efforts spun off of one of television’s most popular shows. Whether or not you’re working with a marketing budget capable of running a Superbowl ad featuring a Game of Thrones character cameo, there’s certainly a campaign worth learning from, or at least laughing at, in the mix.