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Marketing 101: What Game of Thrones Can Teach Businesses

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With Game of Thrones pretty much dominating conversations both online and offline until its finale on May 19 – and very likely a long time after that as well – marketing managers far and wide have been thinking of the best ways in which to capitalize on this social chatter.

A trick when it comes to online marketing, considerably more so with modern brands that appeal to younger audiences, is to branch into so-called meme marketing or newsjacking. This enables you to be at the forefront of the conversation while also showing personality for a brand by linking to something that’s popular – just like Game of Thrones. But how exactly have marketers used Game of Thrones to their advantage?

Game of Thrones Marketing

The Game of Thrones franchise itself has inspired many companies to go all out in terms of marketing, which shows just how expansive this franchise is and how pop culture in general can be used as a marketing tool. For instance, language learning site Duolingo offered a course in High Valyrian as a tie-in to the seventh season, following the same principles as regular foreign language courses on the site, such as French and German, to deliver the GoT language lessons. Undoubtedly, this proves how connected the show is to people’s lives. What’s more, as Magical Vegas Casino shows through its official Game of Thrones online slot, using the theme of Game of Thrones can help to attract fans to play a game they might not have before while also allowing gaming fans to get into the series if they weren’t already. There are myriad more examples. White Walkers were launched to jump out at unsuspecting tourists around the UK to coincide with Sky’s airing of the show. Facebook had 145,000 people watching a block of ice melt in the middle of the day to tie into the ‘Winter is Coming’ theme and slogan. The fact that so many engaged with something so actionless shows the power of the show and how clever the show’s marketing is.

Marketers Using Game of Thrones

GoT marketing has given inspiration to even more brands, though. Oreo released a video of the iconic Game of Thrones opening sequence that featured Oreo biscuits forming the majority of Westeros and Essos, where the landscape of castles and walls was created in the original. The video is a direct parody of the show for an industry that is unrelated in all senses, yet shows that Oreo is a hip brand that understands our affection for the show. Mountain Dew went down another route, featuring limited edition cans that when cold would reveal Arya Stark’s list of targets for revenge. The nifty feature is on-brand for the soft drink, while the callback to the show is understandable – especially for those attempting to stay awake until gone 3 am to watch it. Even make-up brands such as Urban Decay are getting a slice of the Game of Thrones excitement by creating palettes inspired by characters on the show.

Game of Thrones can provide a good lesson in marketing for anyone interested in taking notes – not just in delivering marketing campaigns for the show itself, but for other brands piggybacking onto the buzz and excitement of the show to sell their own products. The show benefits from the wider PR and the brands are able to show audiences they are connected to the show. Of course, such an approach is not limited to GoT itself – it’s a great case study of how brands can tap into pop culture to create some more buzz around their name.

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