How Game of Thrones Mastered PR Strategy

After a nearly two-year wait, this past weekend, 17.4 million people tuned in to the premiere of the highly-anticipated eighth and final season of Game of Thrones. In spite of the delay, the HBO hit was able to maintain, and even enhance, public interest using well-executed PR strategies.  

  1. A month out from the Game of Thrones premiere, HBO launched a campaign called #ForTheThrone, featuring a trio of calls-to-action: “bleed,” “quest” and “create,” to not only get people talking but get the fans involved in the fun.
  • Fans were able to “bleed” for the throne by donating blood at the network’s immersive experience at SXSW in Austin from March 7-9 inspired by iconic characters and moments from Game of Thrones. After the festival was over, the bleeding didn’t stop… As part of its partnership with the American Red Cross, now until April 30th, fans who donate blood are automatically entered for a chance to win a full-size Iron Throne from the series along with a commemorative “Bleed For The Throne” poster.
  • For the “quest” portion of the campaign, six replicas of the Iron Throne were hidden around the world for fans to seek out to answer the ultimate question: How far will you go? The only clues to the locations were a series of hour-long, 360-degree videos of the thrones at various times of day revealing that one was in a forest, another in the desert, and one appeared to be in the middle of a snowscape that was referred to by Vice as a “frigid, tundra-like hellscape”. The thrones were found in New York, Sweden, Brazil, Canada, the UK and Spain.
  • For the final call-to-action, HBO asked 18 international artists to recreate some of the show’s most iconic symbols. Among the most notable was an ice sculpture of the Night King’s sword, Jamie Lannister’s golden hand, and the Stark shield. The participants that completed the “create” challenge, were featured on HBO’s website.

2. Maisie Williams, the actress behind stone-cold Arya Stark, nearly shut down the internet with an April Fools Day prank on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon where she “accidentally” dropped a major spoiler about the fate of her character. Her performance was so convincing it sparked a storm of posts across all social media platforms. The video itself was shared 159,711 times and garnered over 24 million views on Facebook alone.

3. Several brands have partnered with Game of Thrones over the years, but this season they really stepped up their game. Adidas released a line of themed shoes inspired by the surviving houses, including House Stark and House Lannister, while makeup brand Urban Decay released a line of products that are said to be inspired by the women of Westeros and the other Seven Kingdoms, the fictional universe in which the show is set.

Whether or not you’re a fan of the show, it’s safe to say you were highly aware of its premiere last Sunday. It seemed to be an international holiday with everyone planning parties, making themed snacks and seeing the iconic line from the show ‘Winter is Coming,’ just about everywhere.