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Great Marketing Lessons from Game of Thrones

Great Marketing Lessons from Game of Thrones

Even if you are not a regular watcher of HBO’s TV series “Game of Thrones”, it is impossible not to have heard about it or stumbled upon one of the many tweets or articles discussing the latest developments of the storyline.


For those unfamiliar with the TV show, it narrates the story of several noble families fighting for power in a magical land where dragons, white walkers, giants and other mystical creatures roam the earth, and their struggle for power creates a sophisticated plot of treasons and intrigues. Game of Thrones is becoming increasingly popular, turning into a veritable cultural phenomenon.


Who wins and who dies and how characters use elements of power to advance themselves in the game of thrones is fascinating and bears many lessons for any marketer or social media addict.  The show discusses topics such as where power comes from and though it provides several answers, the main lesson is that power is a perception, an illusion, a shadow on a wall, just like marketing is, in many ways.


Their brilliant promotion strategy contains a couple of key elements:

          – Research: The producers of the show created the marketing strategy by starting with the research of their existing fan base, specifically of the book readers on which the series is based, and for this they hired a professional marketing agency from NYC.

          – Multiple channels: Many of their promotional strategies focus heavily on social media. They use Tumblr, Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter, just to name a few, and its official hashtag #GOT was a trending topic on multiple occasions.  In addition, they also use: TV, billboards, bus wraps, social media, online, contests, events, public relations and more. Sabrina Caluori, HBO’s VP of Social Media, listed the following:  “Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, GetGlue, Tumblr, Google+ and Miso as well as building out immersive experiences on HBO digital properties such as HBO Connect, HBO.com and HBO GO.”

          – Engagement: They created many communication channels designed to include actions from fans, for example the JoinTheRealm interactive website – viewers could create their own house banners and lines –   more than 9 million people used this website! The Game of Thrones official Twitter account (https://twitter.com/GameOfThrones) retweeted the most successful ones. Also, the official Tumblr Blog- http://gameofthrones.tumblr.com/   advertises right on the home page the possibility to submit your own creation. This inclusion of fans created a lot of buzz and virality as explained below.

          – Buzz: There are many memes and Tumblr blogs created by fans, also there is a large forum (http://awoiaf.westeros.org/) with theories and predictions and many interactive maps intended to recreate the mythical land imagined by George RR Martin. All this content is created by fans, in their free time, purely out of passion! Game of Thrones generated a lot of buzz by including this fan generated content into its official communication channels, creating visual content that is easy to share, playing on the virality of elements as much as possible, and also by using the knowledge of the existing fan base and rewarding its fans – it is a strategy that worked, as discussions about the show surpassed the base of TV viewers by much.

          – Valuable Content: They also used a well-known actor, whose departure from the show came as a shock for the people which were not familiar with the books…thus starting a lot of controversy. In a similar manner, there were even social media accounts created especially for one particularly dramatic episode – @redweddingtears. It seemed like all that the entire Internet talked about for several days after the airing of that particular episode was Game of Thrones. They thus capitalized on the great and unexpected content of the book or on the popularity of an already famous actor.

          – Remarketing: They really capitalized on the “Winter is Coming” Line – they used a remarketing strategy if you wish to call it that, by repeating the line both in promotional materials and on the show as well. This was also the title of the pilot episode.   Even the late winter that the US experienced this year was used as a teaser for the approaching season of the series.


I find it very interesting that even though Game of Thrones is the most pirated TV show of 2012, the producers consider this a good thing, as the show will capitalize on the cultural buzz generated by this fact.  Don’t you agree that Game of Thrones’ marketing strategy is a brilliant one? Don’t forget, “Winter is coming!”

2 Responses

  1. Hey Andreea, thanks! I was delighted by your post, I’m afraid for the wrong reasons. I live in Italy, the far periphery of the Empire, and your true description looks to me so much like science fiction! I like following Game of Thrones (here called “Throne of swords””, don’t ask me why). It’s a remarkable success even here across the ocean, but uniquely by ancient word-of-mouth. And it works nonetheless! Remarkable, isn’t?

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