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Game of Thrones: Brands Making It Reign

Ahmad Munawar

May 15, 2019

Meltwater looks at what Game of Thrones fans are talking about on social media in this fortnightly review as the fantasy series battle #ForTheThrone draws to a close in season 8. Disclaimer: GoT Season 8 spoilers ahead.

It does not take a decree by the Mad King or Bran’s prophecies to declare that the Game of Thrones has taken over the world by (both fire and snow) storm. This week’s post casts an eye over what the fans gawked about in the epic and brutal scenes of the Battle of Winterfell in Episode 3 and the melodramatic aftermath that followed in the subsequent episode.

This post also looks at the countless number of merchandise churned out to commemorate the fantasy series and the buying masses who are lapping them up like the Night King’s hordes of undead storming into Winterfell. With over 3.5 million mentions in social media since the broadcast of Ep 3, there is a lot of marketing that could be done to expand fanbases for brands.

The Women Running The Game

Despite patriarchal tendencies of the houses in the Seven Kingdoms, the lineup of powerful women runs the roost after eight seasons and two episodes shy of the series’ end. It must be said that the series features strong female protagonists consisting of characters such as Cersei, Arya, Sansa, Daenerys, Melisandre and Lady Brienne (or Ser Brienne, after her recent knighthood by Jaime). With such a strong narrative on the fairer gender, even cosmetic brands have tapped into this fandom to create new products. For example, Urban Decay released a capsule collection for the series and there were more than 15,000 mentions on social media. A healthy 38% of the mentions reacted positively commenting on their excitement and the colours available while a low 8% griped on the capsule being hyped due to the series. Furthermore, during the same period, the capsule generated so much interest that it usurped Urban Decay’s bestselling mainstay Naked Palettes which only had 1,300 mentions.

Other brands such as eco-conscious jewellers, Alex & Ani, and handbag maker, Danielle Nicole, also pitched in with their unique Game of Thrones merchandise. Alex & Ani produced a special collection for the strongest women in the series, namely the Stark sisters, Daenerys and Cersei while the latter crafted a range of backpacks and pouches interpreting the series’ drama and sense of adventure.

This narrative on pro-feminism, however, comes back to haunt the producers of Game of Thrones. With the rising stock of Sansa and how she had developed as an integral part of the series, her encounter with Sandor Clegane or The Hound drew widespread criticism from fans. With over 21,000 mentions, fans were vilified with the conversation between the two characters and highlighted overtly sexist remarks from The Hound. Fans even called the writers sexists by portraying women “needed” to be abused or raped to become a “stronger” character.

Undoubtedly, the most talked about scene was when Arya ended the Night King’s march into Westeros. This highlights another example of female dominance in the series where a young female protagonist takes on the heroic role despite the images of hopelessness prior to that scene. This scene alone garnered almost 660,000 social mentions. There were countless videos of fans erupting in joyous fervour during mass screenings in pubs and halls. Arya’s representation of the underdog and the oppressed overcoming all odds went down well with the series’ fans.

Making Merry and Love

After Arya stakes the Night King with her Valyrian steel blade, the realm of men obviously had to celebrate. And what do they have to celebrate with? Unsurprisingly, booze and unadulterated coitus. Even brands saw the affinity that the Seven Kingdoms had with their alcohol and no one could blame them. In tribute of the show’s unbridled success, three brands took up the mantle to brew and concoct the drinks inspired by the beverages the characters consumed.

Johnnie Walker, Diageo and the Ommegang Brewery launched special creations in light of the final season. A product of inebriation would be welcomed by many and fans poured their delight on social media. Johnnie Walker’s White Walker whisky topped the alcoholic trio with almost 6,000 mentions since the first episode aired while Diageo’s single malts garnered almost 3,700 mentions. Predictably, the lesser known Ommegang drew a respectable 1,900 mentions by fans but did manage to receive positive comments for its creations. In the long run, this will inevitably help to propel the brewery’s reputation and marketability.

Fans also got into the act by concocting their own wines and one French winemaker Thibault Bardet developed two wines to commemorate his favourite books and TV series. Despite getting decent reviews for his creation of The Dornish and The Imp’s Delight wines, HBO sent a legal warning letter for him to stop producing them. Although the broadcaster was kind enough to let him sell off whatever he had in stock. At least the broadcasting behemoth had the heart not to cut off his head just like Cersei ordered the Mountain to do to Missandei.

Another topic that had everyone talking was yet another sensuous one involving Jaime and Ser Brienne. This topic alone had 115,000 social mentions. The pent-up tension and most probably the copious amounts of ale consumed, the pair embraced through the cold night in the North. Many fans were initially delighted but this turned to derision when Jaime made the choice to return to Cersei in King’s Landing. This derision was fueled by comments that this was an act of male chauvinism and Brienne was just a pawn to Jaime’s insecurities to prove that he was a bad person despite her protestations. Fans were also annoyed that Jaime’s character development was completely destroyed in one act of passion as it highlighted a soft indiscretion in an extremely likeable flawed persona.

A Goblet To Rule & Shoes To Walk The Seven Kingdoms

A takeaway coffee cup became a viral sensation in a particular gaffe which three-eyed fans spotted in one of the scenes toasting the victory over the Night King. Fans went hysterical over the brown paper cup and instantaneously identified it to be a Starbucks one. However, upon further investigation, it was revealed that the cup was not from the coffee chain but a generic cup. This did not stop fans from linking Starbucks to the TV series and the topic had 166,000 social mentions. A financial analyst even went as far to say that the cameo appearance generated US$2.3 billion worth in advertising for Starbucks but this we all know remains to be argued.

German athletic wear giants Adidas also jumped into the fray with their iteration of the highly popular range of Ultraboost running shoes. The footwear range represented the various houses of the show and these truly caught fire (and ice) with the fans across the world. There were almost 23,000 mentions since the launch of the collection and almost 42% of them were positively anticipating the chance to “cop” the sneakers.

Arguably, the series has become a cultural phenomenon never seen since the intergalactic world of Star Wars. With it being part of the cultural folklore of our realm, marketing professionals around the world are unsheathing and thrusting their blades into the bellies of capitalism and making sure that they get their own shot at the Throne.

Disclaimer: All data and insights provided by Meltwater were analysed for the period between Episode 3 and before the broadcast of Episode 5