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Game of Thrones (GOT) is arguably the grandest and most cinematic television show ever. Every new episode attracts a huge number of viewers each week. While it means millions of people get to witness the twists and turns, it also means millions of people get a closer look at the nitty-gritty of the show.
After every Game of Thrones episode, social media platforms are abuzz with spoilers and memes. This time, on the release of the latest episode – ‘The Last of the Starks’, the discussion moved from key characters such as Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen to an accidentally placed coffee cup.
Social media users were quick to point out an item that was out of place in one scene. Something that closely resembled a Starbucks paper cup appeared to be sitting on the table during the celebratory feast at Winterfell. What may have gone unnoticed by the show’s vast production team, did not by its millions of fans.
While fans were busy mocking the show’s editors, the Seattle-based coffee giant sat back and enjoyed all the attention. Not only was the item quickly spotted but its cameo was as good as dissected, overanalyzed, and ultimately made into memes. It was only on screen for two seconds, but that was long enough.
Was it intentional product placement or just a silly error from the maker’s end? Well, whatever it is, the damage had been done and Starbucks earned a billion-dollar shot of free advertising (maybe).
Everyone noticed it and everyone talked about it.
Who won here? Of course, Starbucks!
This is apparently the last Games of Thrones season; hence, the online viewership is estimated to be 17.6 million worldwide. Besides being the most talked about show on social media, it’s shattering records season after season.
Starbucks received $11.6 million worth of free embedded marketing. Social media analytics, television and radio, and digital coverage counted more than 193,000 mentions within 48 hours that cited both Starbucks and Game of Thrones.
Traditionally, brands pay big for product placements and even bigger for shows like these. In today’s modern environment, it is quickly becoming a way for brands to reach their target audience in a ‘subtle’ way.
For example, Audi partnered with Marvel Studio’ ‘Avengers: Endgame’ in a deal that cost millions. Similarly, Daniel Craig swapped a Vodka Martini for a bottle of Heineken in Skyfall in a deal that cost $45 million.
This proves that product placements are pretty darn expensive.
Though the coffee cup had been edited out of the episode, the chatter around the brand continued. The main takeaway from this is how a brand can resort to subtle advertising to gain traction. Just by imprinting the logo of a brand on a paper cup, millions of people could see it and read it!
Paper cup advertising runs on the same concept. GingerCup imprints your brand’s logo on paper cups and places them at high-traffic locations to garner attention. Your brand not just subtly interacts with the target group but also urges them to take some kind of action.
What are your thoughts on this if the branding activity in GOT was intentional? Starbucks was definitely able to hit a sweet spot with this as it was a branding victory for them.
Would you resort to this breakthrough advertising medium in your marketing mix?
We would love to hear your thoughts.