BRANDS BATTLE FOR GAME OF THRONES

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Regardless of whether you’re an avid fan or you’ve never watched a single episode of Game of Thrones, you’ll agree that it’s a cultural phenomenon. This week, the Sky Atlantic series returned for its fifth season, with nearly 1.6 million people tuning in for the opening episode.

In the run-up to the season five launch, fans were treated to cryptic teasers and two months of trailers on Sky which helped to generate over one million mentions across social media. In a world of increasing media fragmentation, it feels like Game of Thrones is one of very few programmes which has the ability to define a season launch as a high-demand event. The programme has shown that the best fix for media fragmentation is creativity – after all, creativity is king.

The sheer volume of content and conversations that are sparked across the digital landscape comes as little surprise, especially as Sky is extremely quick to join in on tweets and comments. Data derived from social media content showed that there were nearly 500,000 references to the show during the lead-up to its UK premiere.

All of this comes together to give brands the perfect setting to influence consumer interest and place their own story in front of an engaged and vast audience. For example, brands from Vogue to Budweiser created their own Game of Thrones puns and references on social media in preparation for #ThronesDay. Some brands, such as Burger King and Papa John’s, were even bold enough to interact with their competitors while making references to the TV show.

While the majority of these posts were highly shareable and relevant, others such as the American fast-food chain, Chili’s, were not so successful. Chili’s decided to skip the tweeting altogether and opted for an uninspiring sponsored advert to show up on users’ feeds, which merely featured the word ‘taco’ inserted into the programme’s title. Brands need to ensure that their story is relevant to the conversation and that their content is original.

Game of Thrones is a brilliant example of how to encourage brands to jump on board a PR train. With a sixth season being commissioned by Sky and HBO, the show’s marauding march is set to continue for the foreseeable future, with an ever-increasing and dedicated fan base. To quote Cersei – the Queen Regent of the Seven Kingdoms – “That little monster’s out there drawing breath.”