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Game of Thrones Brand Partnerships [Infographic]

Dylan Majerus | August 23, 2019 at 9:49 AM

Brands And The Throne

Since 2011, Game of Thrones has held the reigns as one of the, if not the, most popular show on television. Whether or not you are satisfied or completely in disarray with how the series ended, there is no denying its cultural and cinematic imprint in television history.

Over the years, the rise and popularity for the show has led many brands to want to jump on and ride the wave of Game of Thrones' success. Obviously not by way of product placement, but through licensing extensions and strategic advertising partners.  These partnerships serve to garner not only media attention towards Game of Thrones, but awareness towards those brands as well. In this blog post, Hollywood Branded provides a deeper look and an infographic of the brand partnerships of Game of Thrones.


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About Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones, adapted from George R.R. Martin's best-selling book series "A Song of Ice and Fire", takes place in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros where nine noble families play a deadly game for conquest and control to sit atop the Iron Throne. The beloved series has enthralled fans from around the world, coming together for an eight season long epic journey engulfed in the trials of full-scale war and friction.

It is evident how massive Game of Thrones popularity has grown over the years as its U.S. viewership increased by 350 percent from season one to season eight, making it an extremely attractive marketing piece for brands.


Why Brands Partner With Game of Thrones

Similar to how brands have absorbed the popular entities of titles such as Transformers, Harry Potter, and Marvel to accumulate awareness and sales, Game of Thrones offered major opportunities for brands to hit the marketing jackpot.

It's rather plain and simple, a lot of people watched - and still watch -  Game of Thrones. The Thrones fandom has been rising by the millions every season since its 2011 series debut. What started off as a small, but respectable viewership of an average 2.22 million live viewers in its first season, has massively grown up to a whopping 19.3 million viewers during the finale of season 8 - an HBO record.

Its' source material gives brands the opportunity to develop creative projects, promotions, events, and product lines surrounding the ethos of its mythology and historically influenced intrigue.

How Product Placement &  Co-Promotional Marketing Works


Licensed Product Lines

Creating consumer engagement is important, and to get fan attention, leveraging pop culture and entertainment by a brand is a more interpersonal connection that speaks to the core consumer. Productions seek to build brand partnership opportunities with brands that can help amplify the viewing experience, and which align positively with the content.  

The success of the Game Thrones has created several partnered product lines with companies such as Adidas, Alex and Ani, and Danielle Nicole. Fans who typically sport Adidas Ultra Boosts could look forward to purchasing the limited released line of Game of Throne designed sneakers.

Or those looking to dress with a nod towards the franchise could don Game of Thrones themed bling with stylish necklaces by Alex and Ani, or handbags from Danielle Nicole.

Leveraging these brands alludes to another win-win for both sides - money. Game of Thrones has become a world-wide phenomenon where just about everyone wants to get a piece of the action. Partnering with the most popular television show today certainly brings in brand awareness, but with licensed product lines, it can come with a nice big check as well.


Strategic Cross Promotions

In order to connect with the viewer beyond the silver screen, studio and network executives know that partnering with brands allows the brand to pay for the overall marketing campaign, instead of the distributor.  

When creating promotional content, a production's marketing team looks for the most cost-effective way to market the production. To enlarge the subscriber base, strategic promotions allow for win/win scenarios for both the studios and the brands as both parties save money, and simultaneously increase brand awareness. Aside from its financial benefits of driving people to the production, developing creative, engaging content that is part of pop culture excites the consumer. 

Promotional campaigns between brands such as Mountain Dew and Kool-Aid created limited released lines of specialized branding with their cup designs. Fans had the choice to choose between two new Kool-Aid introduced canister designs were Kool-Ice and Kool-fire mimicked the Ice and Fire motif of series.

Similarly, viewers could find out who the GOT savior, Arya Stark, was hunting down with her “kill list” unveiled on Mountain Dew released limited edition cans.

Promotional partnerships also try to get the best out of its fandom. A partnership that perhaps demands the most out of a hardcore Thrones fan comes from Shake Shake. The burger joint released a special menu to promote the final series, but for one to access these newly introduced amenities, one would have to speak in Valyrian, the fictional language from the show. In total, we have counted Game of Thrones has collaborated with 18 brands in lieu of its biggest, most epic season yet.


Our Game of Thrones Brand Partnership Infographic

We've compiled an infographic that showcases the brand partnerships who have either supported the series through co-promotional marketing, or created licensed brand lines where both HBO and the brand are able to profit.  Take a look - and feel free to share!

game-of-thrones-brand-partners-infographic


A Look At The Partnerships

2019 Partnerships

  • American Red Cross
    • The partnership consisted of Bleed For The Throne, a promotion which encouraged fans to help end blood shortages worldwide.
    • This partnership represented the largest blood donation promotional effort by an entertainment company in the history of the American red Cross.
    • Fans who donated during this time received an exclusive Bleed For The Throne t-shirt, while supplies lasted. Additionally, those fans who donated prior to March 17 were automatically entered for a chance to win a trip to the season premiere of GAME OF THRONES' final season.

  • AT&T
    • HBO teamed with AT&T to celebrate the television debut of GAME OF THRONES' final season.
    • The partnership consisted of the "Own the Throne" sweepstakes in which fans had a chance to win the iconic iron throne from the show. No purchase was required and fans entered online at AT&T's "Own the Throne" website. One grand prize winner received a replica of the iron throne.
    • In addition, at ATT.com and AT&T retail stores across the U.S., the company will be selling dozens of exclusive “Game of Thrones” accessories, including phone cases, power cables, wireless chargers, wine tumblers, water bottles, and pint glasses.
  • Bob Cabral Wines
    • The two companies toasted to the acclaimed series by creating an official GAME OF THRONES wine.
    • The official GAME OF THRONES collection included three wines. Bob Cabral created all three with a red wine, a Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir.
    • The labels were themed in accordance with House Stark, Lannister and other prominent GAME OF THRONES families.
    • Fans who ordered the Bob Cabral GAME OF THRONES wines through alcohol delivery service Drizley also received a custom GAME OF THRONES corkscrew.

  • Fender
    • Produced with guidance from HBO Licensing & Retail, Fender created the GAME OF THRONES Sigil collection. The collection consisted of three models that each drew inspiration from family sigils featured in the show.
    • The three guitar models created were representative of three fan-favorite houses—the Game of Thrones House Stark Telecaster, the Games of Thrones House Lannister Jaguar and the Game of Thrones House Targaryen Stratocaster.
    • Each model also came with a bespoke guitar case that reflected the ethos of the instrument with ornate attention to detail, as well as an El Dorado strap.
  • Kool-Aid
    • The promotion consisted of a branded line of Kool-Aid canisters featuring imagery from the show. The two canister designs were Kool-Ice and Kool-fire which were nods to the Ice and Fire motif of GAME OF THRONES. Kool-Aid and GAME OF THRONES partnered for a canister giveaway in which fans were able to potentially win these branded canisters.
    • The winners received one limited-edition canister of Kool-Aid each.

  • Minnesota Timberwolves
    • The organization said in celebration of the highly anticipated season eight premiere, the Timberwolves will be changing its external logo to the Minnesota Direwolves.
    • In addition to an updated logo, the Timberwolves unveiled a limited edition Direwolves collection in their online store featuring a selection of T-shirts, hoodies, and hats.

  • Shake Shack
    • The promotion consisted of a special menu inspired by the hit show that fans could order from at Shake Shack locations. Items included the Dragonglass Shake, the Dracarys Burger and more.
    • The shake and burger options on the secret menu needed to be ordered in Valyrian, the fictional language from the show.
    • Additionally, the burger chain's West Village location in New York created and featured its own version of Daenerys Targaryen's Dragonstone Throne, displayed on April 12.

  • John Varvatos
    • The two companies collaborated to release a line of clothing inspired by the series. It featured 11 new items customized to fit the world of the show.
    • The collection of jackets, hoodies and bags translated the textures and tones of the fictional world of Westeros. Items sold included the Dragonstone Linen Jacket, the Winterfell Leather Jacket, a traveler bag and more.
    • The items in the GAME OF THRONES x john varvatos retailed from $98 through $2,698.

  • Bellagio
    • The partnership consisted of GAME OF THRONES taking over the Bellagio's iconic fountains for a branded show.
    • Two weeks prior to the final season premiere, Las Vegas onlookers saw the Bellagio fountains give a unique teaser for the show. The teaser had the Bellagio fountains dance and jet set to the show's iconic theme while displaying branded content such as Daenerys' dragons and the Night King. The water jets displayed callbacks to moments in the shows past with the entire display culminated in the dragons setting the hotel's lake on fire in a massive pyrotechnic display.

  • Snapchat
    • To hype the return of the series, HBO and Snapchat teamed to create an immersive experience for SXSW festival attendees. HBO created a multi-room activation at the festival in which fans could unlock augmented reality experience using Snapchat.
    • The activation, called "Bleed for the Throne," consisted of several medieval experience built by HBO that could be scanned by Snapchat's AR Marker tool to reveal characters at each site covered in blood or ignited in flames.
    • At one site, the AR tool revealed fire and ice enveloping a map of the fictional world of Westeros. At another, a replica of the Hand of the King pin was revealed by Snapchat to be burning in fire. Scanning portraits of the show's characters revealed bloody thrones behind them. In a tent dedicated to Daenerys, Snapchat revealed silhouettes of her army.
  • MeUndies
    • MeUndies collection features an array of nightwear essentials — men’s boxers, briefs, socks, and lounge pants — sporting a tasteful dragon design.
    • You can sign up for a MeUndies membership to receive discounts on select items, exclusive prints, and a monthly shipment at a cheap price.

  • Urban Decay
    • Urban Decay | Game of Thrones collection, inspired by landmark locations in Westeros and the strong women of the Seven Kingdoms.
    • Drawing from GAME OF THRONES locations such as Dragonstone and the Wall, the collection allowed fans to create their own looks inspired by House Stark, House Targaryen, House Lannister, and the White Walkers.
    • The limited-edition collection included a UD | Game of Thrones Eyeshadow Palette, a pop-up palette with an arsenal of 20 shades, including four holographic transformer shadows.

    • OK Cupid
      • To promote the series, OkCupid asked users if they watched GAME OF THRONES. Every user who answered "Yes" to the question received a custom GAME OF THRONES badge on their profile.
      • According to OkCupid, the television series had been mentioned more than 2 million times on OkCupid profiles so teaming with HBO was a natural way to take the series' popularity on the platform to the next level.
      • The partnership allowed users to easily match with fellow GAME OF THRONES fans on OkCupid via the new badge on their profiles.


  • Oreo
    • Oreo and HBO joined forced to create GAME OF THRONES-branded Oreos with custom packaging that evoked the iconography of the series.
    • The pack of cookies featured embossments depicting the show's Great Houses and White Walkers.
    • Oreo announced the new cookies in a video which recreated the show's opening sequence with 2,750 animated Oreos.
    • Aired during the NCAA basketball tournament Final Four games.

 

  • MLB
    • The partnership consisted of collectible manufacture FOCO creating a line of GAME OF THRONES bobbleheads featuring MLB mascots. The collectibles combined GAME OF THRONES iconography such as The Iron Throne with MLB mascots such as Mr. Met. All 30 MLB teams were included in the collection that paired MLB players and mascots with GAME OF THRONES settings.

 

  • Hulu
    • The partnership consisted of the "Binge the Game" sweepstakes that offered fans the chance to win a luxury trip to Croatia where they could visit the locations where many iconic scenes from the show were filmed.
    • To enter the sweepstakes, participants had to subscribe to Hulu and include the HBO premium add-on to their subscription. Fans then registered for the sweepstakes and then watched as many episodes of GAME OF THRONES as possible. The sweepstakes culminated with one grand prize winner receiving a trip to Croatia for two with airfare, luxury hotel accommodations, guided visits to GAME OF THRONES locations, $2400 spending money as well as a 12-month subscription to HBO on Hulu.

  • Mountain Dew
    • The partnership consisted of a limited edition collection of branded cans of Mountain Dew along with a sweepstakes.
    • The limited edition cans are completely blank and white, devoid of any branding, when warm. However, when the cans are chilled it revels GAME OF THRONES and Mountain Dew logos underneath a list of names that circle around the can. The names are those belonging to the "kill list" of GAME OF THRONES character Arya Stark.
    • Additionally, Mountain Dew produced a video reconfiguring the main title song from the show’s opening credits. The video featured celebrities such as Migos who recorded a new verse for the track, The Chainsmokers, Joel Embiid, A’ja Wilson and more.

 

  • Spotify
    • But now we have at least one clue how Game of Thrones will end, courtesy of series creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. The pair helped create a new Spotify playlist, Game of Thrones: The End Is Coming, to accompany their hit show’s final season—and even included a hint as to how the beloved series will concluded. 
  • XBOX
    • The partnership consisted of a giveaway in which fans had the opportunity to receive one of three custom Xbox One consoles featuring designs inspired by GAME OF THRONES.
    • To win a custom GAME OF THRONES console, fans had to follow the Xbox Twitter account and retweet the competition post with the hashtags #GamerThroners and #Sweepstakes. Fans could also enter by liking the competition post on Facebook. The promotion ran until May 22, 2019.

  • Diageo
  • HBO had previously partnered Diageo last year to unveil a limited-edition White Walker by Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky.
  • The partnership celebrated the final season of the series by creating a collection of GAME OF THRONES-inspired whiskey. The collection featured eight custom whiskies correlating to the eight seasons of the HBO series.
  • Each of the Scotch whiskies in the collection was paired with one of the Houses of Westeros, the fictional continent depicted in the show, as well as the Night’s Watch. Diageo designed each whiskey based on the similarities between its Scottish distilleries and the fictional areas depicted in the series.

  • Bud Light
    • Spot aired during the Super Bowl.
    • The commercial featured the Bud Light Knight, longtime Bud Light mascot, competing in a joust against The Mountain, a character from the show. The Bud Light Knight was defeated by the Mountain and destroyed by a dragon. Everyone in the crowd was drinking a Bud Light and the commercial encouraged fans to use the hashtag #ForTheThrone on social media.
    • The success of the initial ad push was followed by an additional ad in which the Bud Light Knight came back to life in a manner akin to the return of Jon Snow in the HBO series.
  • Adidas
    • The collaboration between HBO and Adidas consisted of specially branded Adidas Ultra Boost sneakers.
    • The shoes were patterned to colorways which mirrored great houses from the show included red and gold for the Lannisters, grey and black for the Starks and many more.

 

  • Danielle Nicole
    • HBO and Danielle Nicole have partnered to create a line of Game of Thrones handbags and accessories as covetable as the Iron Throne itself. The collection interprets the show’s complexities and dark drama into a set of backpacks, crossbody bags, pouches and wristlets.

  • KFC
    • The brand launched the ‘Hot & Spicy’ campaign last year, which consisted of a series of images that swapped out flames for the similarly aesthetic image of the hot and spicy batter on its chicken.
    • To celebrate the final season of Game of Thrones, alongside its agency Ogilvy, it’s given a classic dragon image a ‘Hot & Spicy’ twist, replacing the fire with its chicken.

2018 Partnerships

  • Ebay
    • The promotion consisted of the Charity Homes For Our Troops sweepstakes which offered fans the chance to attend the premiere of the eighth and final season of the show.
    • Entrants received a certain number of sweepstakes entries corresponding with the amount of their donation: $25 received 250 entries, $50 received 500 entries, $75 received 750 entries and $100 received 1,000 entries.
    • The winner received two tickets to attend the Game of Thrones Final Season Premiere and after-party at New York City Radio City Music Hall, plus $1,000 spending money.

  • Google
    • Promote the release of Google's Chromebooks. The promotion consisted of an ad campaign in which characters from the show, specifically the White Walkers and the Night King, coordinate using Google's Chromebook.
    • In addition to the ad, Google also posted a blog post from the Night King, White Walker recruitment orientation slides and an overview of tools these undead warriors use on their quest take over the fantasy realm of the show. The entire deck was available on Google Slides to emphasize collaboration and comments between the Night King and a Wight.

  • Johnnie Walker
    • HBO teamed up with Johnnie Walker to unveil the new White Walker by Johnnie Walker Blended Scotch Whisky and a GAME OF THRONES Single Malt Scotch Whisky Collection. The limited-edition bottles are inspired by the iconic characters and creative work of Westeros and beyond.

2016 Partnerships

  • Red Bull
    • Red Bull’s video opens with an image eerily similar to where we left Snow at the end of season 5. Fittingly titled “Jon Snowboard lives to shred,” the parody then sees Snow sit up, chug a Red Bull, and return to snowboarding.
    • It received 5.1 million views, 81,000 likes, and nearly 30,000 shares on Facebook. On Twitter, it garnered 534 Retweets and 713 likes.
  • Sesame Street
    • Promotional content using Sesame Street characters mocking how GOT will probably not end.

2015 Partnerships

  • Uber
    • HBO partnered with Uber to promote GAME OF THRONES with a contest for Manhattan-based fans to take a picture on the Iron Throne.
    • Several Throne-mobiles and Iron Throne pedicabs hit the streets of Manhattan to be summoned by typing the promo code "ThroneRides" in the Uber app for iPhone and Android.
    • From there, Uber users had 2 choices: either "Throne" to get the chance to take a picture sitting on one of a handful of stationary, glass-encased Iron Thrones, or "Pedicab" to be carted around town in a pedicab fashioned after the mighty throne while pretending to be King of the Andals and the First Men.

Target

Target's hot holiday commodity was the 4 Game of Thrones themed holiday sweaters.


More Promotions and Product Lines

A great way to guarantee a rise in consumer awareness and to be in the spotlight is for brands to partner with franchise series as popular as Game of Thrones. It's hard to visit the internet without seeing mention of the hottest show on television among the abundance of videos, posters, and advertisements that promoted the show. And these are partnerships - when well done - that will live in fan memory for decades to come.

Read more about Game of Thrones in these blogs:

Interested in learning more about branded partnerships and promotional content? Check out these other blog posts:

Curious to learn more about how your brand can partner with brands? This video will answer all of your questions as walks you through step by step the processes taken by Hollywood Branded that will lead to your brand increasing both consumer engagement and sales!

How Product Placement Works Video


 

Topics: Strategic Partnerships, Creative Content

Dylan Majerus

Written by Dylan Majerus