Implied Celebrity Endorsement: How Arby's Capitalized on Game of Thrones Success


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For Game of Thrones fans winter is here… and thankfully for them they don’t need to travel all the way to Westeros in order to satisfy their craving of succulent, smoked turkey legs. On Sunday August 27th Arby’s introduced their newest menu item, only available in certain regions, also known as Game of Thrones night, which consequently made more than a few heads roll (similar to Ned Stark at the end of season one)... spoiler alert.

In a world captivated by the tale of 'Fire and Ice' this brand, and others, are all leaping at the opportunity to reap the benefits of this latest trend. In this blog, Hollywood Branded will explore the implied celebrity endorsement of how Arby's capitalized on Game of Thrones success, and why other brands are following suit.

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Turkey Is Coming... To An Arby's Near You!

It may be getting cold in Westeros, but the stomachs of North America have nothing to fear as they'll be warmed by juicy turkey legs at Arby's, seasoned with salt and brown sugar, then smoked and slow-roasted. After one mouthful of the meaty meal no white walker will be a match, and for good reason, take a look at it:


Photo: Courtesy of Arby's

But wait, did you notice anything...other than the glistening turkey skin? Take another look... something seems awfully familiar doesn't it?a

You guessed it: the inescapable catchphrase of the series with one specific, deliberate tweak.

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While the new menu item hasn’t been outwardly referenced to be in direct correlation with the HBO show, but fan or not, the advertisement’s clear intention lacks the art of subtly of Peter Baellish, very obviously pandering to a certain demographic. A demographic that boasted record-breaking viewership throughout the latest season, with many episodes reaching over 25 million people (16.5 with replays and streaming factored in) during the season finale, airing the same date the smoked turkey leg debuted.

But this isn't the first time a brand has jumped on the bandwagon when it came to popular content as a means of reaching a large audience, in fact, Game of Thrones has seen similar nuances throughout the course of its air time as popularity has grown. And upon reaching the largest reach with the previous season, the seventh to be exact, more and more of these tactful strategies have been tied with the series.

Bud Light recently released new ad is titled "Banquet", which first aired just ahead of the Game of Thrones season finale (and ahead of the smoked turkey leg in Arby's kitchens). Below is the video: 

In the humorous ad multiple banquet attendees present the king and queen Bud Light, increasing the quantity with every gift given, and being duly rewarded with kind words from the nobles at the growing bottle count. However, one poor soul man makes (what we can assume to be fatal in true Game of Thrones fashion) a mistake in attempting to please the royals with a "spiced honey mead wine." A punishment served by banishment to the "pit of misery."

Of course, with the medieval tone and release date aligning so perfectly with the finale it's no secret what the intention of the advertisement was, and you needn't be a Three-Eyed Raven to see the reasoning behind it. In Bud Light's case, Andy Goeler, a longtime Anheuser-Busch employee now VP of the company, admitted lightly in an interview with that he wants the brand to be culturally relevant, and went on to confirm that the script of the new ad "Banquet" was indeed influenced by Game of Thrones.

It's a trend that popular culture has grown to see more and more of, and will continue to take notice of. Why? It's really quite simple: the nature of these very obvious presentations of advertisements, like Arby's and Bud Light, are clearly and cleverly devised as a means of securing implied endorsement for the brand. So clever in fact you would think Tyrion Lannister were behind it.

Celebrity Endorsement Deal Case Studies That Made Sales Happen Video

Hold The Door! ...What Does This Mean For Brands?

I'm glad you asked.

With Game of Thrones being the latest craze of the masses in terms of popular culture it's understandable why brands would want to hitch their wagons with the trend: it's an easy and influential way to assure eyes on the product, and gain immediate interest. Legitimate integration or cross-promotion matters not to the average consumer, but instead, the reference to a favored television show, or mobile game, as we saw with Pokémon GO the summer of 2016, is what captures and holds both their attention.

In short: jumping on the culturally popular bandwagon assures that the brand's awareness will spread faster than Wildfire amongst an approaching enemy fleet, guaranteed (but with fewer casualties). Not to mention, it's cheaper on the brand's part than having to negotiate monetary deals. Larger audience, smaller budget. It's crystal clear why implied endorsement by these types of promotional strategies have been so highly favored as of late, and really, can you blame them? The results garnered are both evident and apparent, and will assuredly continue, it's just a matter of what the next trend will be, and when it will strike.

Read To Take The Next Steps Beyond The Wall?

Are you interested in utilizing brand integrations or product placement in your entertainment marketing mix, but simply don’t know where to start? Jon Snow may know nothing, but we'll help you become a marketing Maester! There is so much more to product placement than what may previously be thought, and being educated on key tactics to assure the best fit for your brand is more important than guarding the wall.

To learn more, check out our Infographic on How Entertainment Marketing is Different Than Advertising, or read up on How To Launch A Brand Through Product Placement: Kingsman & Old ForesterAnd make sure to download our Product Placement & Promotions 101 Infographic today and add some new tricks to your trade!

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