So, this is a bit of a self-indulgent blog post from me. I am a huge Game of Thrones fan and am eagerly awaiting the launch of the final series in the same way as a huge proportion of the global population.

Tonight is the night and I have already bought popcorn.

However, I do believe that the Marketing Maesters behind the popular series can teach us all a few things about how to create and harness ‘hype’ around a brand – maybe just not on such a dragon-sized scale.

The last series of Game of Thrones aired on 16th July 2017 and since then we have had 638 days without an update on the occupants of Westeros.

It’s been tough.

Two years to keep the momentum going without viewers losing interest or becoming disconnected is a big challenge for any marketeer, but the team behind GoT have it down to a fine art.

Let’s hear it for the fans

The secret lies in the fan base. Over 10 million people watched the opening episode of season 7 and the entire series was mentioned on social media 507,030 times. It would be easy for the makers to rest on their laurels and expect the gargantuan interest in the series to continue, but they continue to push the bar in terms of anticipation.

There are several ways that this has been achieved. The strategic and staged release of cryptic promotional photos, trailers, and videos have been meticulously scrutinised and analysed by fans of the series for clues on the action to come. Fan theories are widespread and continuously perpetuate the narrative and ‘noise’ online, with large numbers of people on social media commenting, dispelling and agreeing with suggestions put forward. Artwork is deliberately ambiguous to tease the audience and build suspense.

Even the release of the season 8 episode titles and running times sent the fandom into a frenzy of what this could mean for the ending. As one social media blogger neatly identified, the fact that GoT only airs ten weeks every year means each episode becomes a ‘cultural event’. Each viewer is encouraged to join in with this event through hashtag campaigns, real-time commentary and opinion pieces.

But the makers still decided to go one step further.

Get your partnerships in place

Collaboration is the key here. As with any battle for power, alliances are the key to success and the GoT marketing team learnt this very early on. Collaborations with high-profile brands such as Volvo, Johnnie Walker and Oreo have spread the interest in the series wider than just fantasy genre enthusiasts.

Their latest collaborative campaign with Spotify not only reaches an enormous 96 million paid subscribers, but essentially sets fans a problem-solving quest. Co-creators David Benioff and DB Weiss have cleverly revealed that the answer to how the series ends can be deciphered from the playlist. Whether this is true or not, that’s 51 songs, thousands of lyrics and a whole lot of user-generated engagement and content.

What does this mean for you?

So, what can we learn on a very top level from this worldwide phenomenon that can be applied to your own marketing?

  1. Tap into your audience – Use customer insight to inform your marketing strategy. What content do they engage with most? Use this as a way to encourage meaningful conversations and build a community of brand advocates
  2. Partner Up – Relevant collaboration between brands is a way to strengthen your proposition and reach a wider shared audience. Use it to bring excitement and credibility to your marketing efforts
  3. Continuous Improvement – Even the best campaign results can be improved on. Searching for new and innovative ways to engage and reach your audience across different channels and mediums will improve engagement with your brand

Do you have a new product launch or brand milestone that could do with some pre-event engagement? If so, we would love to help you maximise marketing activity for such opportunities. Email us at [email protected] and let’s talk.

And enjoy season 8 Game of Thrones fans! Winter is finally here.