MKTG Insights - The Marketability of Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones (GoT) fans have been anxiously awaiting the beginning of the final season on April 14th. With the previous season ending on a spectacular cliffhanger almost a year and a half ago, anticipation for this season is high – and brands have taken notice.
From Mountain Dew’s rendition of the GoT theme song to adidas’ GoT Ultraboost Collection, brands have been clamoring to collaborate with the popular property to mixed reactions from consumers. In this blog, we’ll outline the key factors that can help ensure a successful partnership with a property like Game of Thrones; starting with an understanding the fanbase.
WHAT MAKES GAME OF THRONES FANS SO PASSIONATE?
GoT revitalized the Fantasy Escapism genre; along with some other notable properties like Star Wars and Marvel, it garners an intense fandom because fans get to escape into a new universe every time they watch.
The storylines are rich and complex - contrary to the short attention-span economy we live in, GoT requires your full attention to understand what’s going on. This is crucial, because the discourse during breaks and after the show is an integral part of experiencing the genre. Just like sports fans, who break down the details of a game’s outcome following its conclusion, fantasy fans discuss theories and opinions with their peers and other fan - and only those who have a thorough understanding of the material can contribute to these conversations. After having invested hours of their time in the show, it’s no wonder fan avidity is at an all-time high.
pARTNERING WITH A PROPERTY LIKE gAME OF thRONES
A successful partnership with a property like GoT starts with understanding the GoT fanbase, and the consistent elements between fantasy fanatics that drive resonance between fantastical properties and brand efforts. It’s more than simply tacking the show’s logo on your product – it’s brands that recognize the fans’ obsession for the details, and tap into fans’ demand to show off their passion for bragging rights.
Fans nerd out for for the details
When Oreo announced special edition GoT cookies, they made sure to pay homage to the details only true fans would appreciate. Oreo went beyond slapping the logo on their packaging – instead donning the cookies themselves with symbols from the four major players left standing in the final season: House Stark, House Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, and the White Walkers (winter is coming!). Their goal was for fans to integrate the cookies into their watching routines and, given the detail, they probably will be.
Not only did Oreo create an incredibly detailed set of cookies, but the brand even teased the partnership with a clip on social of a shot-for-shot, Oreo-filled rendition of the show’s famed opening sequence (which was promptly shared from fan-to-fan).
Urban Decay’s collaboration was also a formidable effort with tons of detail in their makeup collection, inspired by the women of Westeros. Many beauty brands have partnered with entertainment properties by slapping the logo on an existing color shade in their repertoire – UD created brand new color and product offerings with tons of detail, from the Iron Throne-inspired packaging, down to the makeup brushes with handles based on specific swords used in the show.
Tapping into collectability
Fans of all categories, whether its fantasy, sports, or music, love to collect memorabilia. It’s a way to express loyalty for an entity, ensuring one owns items from their favourite show, movie, or sports team. Trading cards for example is something that spans across all genres of collectability, the trading of which was a commonality on the playground. As kids grow into adults, collectability continues but shifts towards everyday objects - it’s a tangible way for fans to proudly display their passions and avidity.
Diageo chose this angle to activate around their partnership with the property by introducing a collection of single malt whiskeys, each reflecting a House from GoT, with each House assigned a specific brand and spirit based on how the distillery history and geographical location embodies their in-show inspiration. This also contributes to the collectability of memorabilia within the niche, given the various categories and “teams” for which fans have developed loyalties and allegiances. A true “House Stark” fan will pick up the “House Stark Dalwhinnie Winter’s Frost”, while die-hard fans will scoop up all variances of the products.
With the long shelf-life of these spirits, the partnership can work even harder for Diageo – sitting unopened as a showpiece in fans’ liquor cabinets.
Brands are creating ways to inject their products into conversations and viewing experiences - whether that’s GoT make-up looks, to GoT food and beverage for your viewing parties, the most successful partnerships are ones that convey themes and values of the GoT brand with their product and efforts, bringing a level of excitement to fans that is only comparable to the show itself.