Marketing lessons we learned from Game of Thrones
Forget South Africa’s rainbow nation and our 11 official languages.
If any universe could claim to be truly diverse, it would be Westeros. It’s a world inhabited – in no particular order – by dwarves, dragons, zombies, a giant wall made of ice, cannibals, direwolves and chairs fashioned out of swords.
Throw in a hipster or two (Jon Snow? Does emo count?) and they’d be hitting all the right demographics. Something for everyone.
Naturally, such a varied environment makes for fertile ground when it comes to important life lessons – and really, if we’re being honest, this is Game of Thrones’ real gift to the world.
A textbook case study on the finer points of marketing.
Lesson 1: Get a proper brief upfront
Case in point: poor ole Ned Stark. Headless somewhere, lost to us forever. If only he’d asked for an accurate brief from client. If only he’d asked the right questions. Like, “What do you mean you’ll be out drinking and hunting while I do most of the work?” And “How am I supposed to do my job with no budget considering the kingdom is bankrupt?” Or “Will I end up losing my head if I uncover incriminating information?”
The brief people. Get it. In writing. Then commit.
Lesson 2: (Create and) solve a problem
Every great campaign or product needs to solve a problem. A good marketer creates a gap and fills it. See: Daenerys, She Who Has a Lot of Fancy Titles – but most importantly, dragons. Her family sat on the Iron Throne pretty much forever, legalised incest (amongst themselves) – and bred dragons to keep their subjects nice and jittery. They were the problem but they also solved it.
Lesson 3: Answer the question: do you HAVE a product worth marketing?
Besides solving a problem, your product actually needs to be interesting, clever, useful, fun, or just something. The product everyone’s fighting over in Game of Thrones is a throne made of swords. I mean, it looks all avant garde and fancy, like something that would feature on Top Billing, but how practical is it really? Will it suit the décor in your home? How will you clean it? What if guests sit on it and stab themselves?
Lesson 4: Build a buzz
Many traumatic flashbacks ago when Game of Thrones first appeared in our lives, there was talk of “White Walkers”. Eerie things. Each season, their reputation grew as we heard and saw glimpses of their creepiness. But, they weren’t just creepy. They were also clever. They had a great PR plan. They created hype and built a buzz way before they were ready to launch. So when they did finally appear, people forgave their shortcomings. (Eh, they’re okay, not that scary, is that what everyone’s terrified about?) because who cares? It was like finally getting to open Christmas presents.
Lesson 5: Know your data and use it
Numbers aren’t just for nerds, people. They help immensely when you’re planning mayhem while merrily twirling your (evil) moustache. Just ask Petyr Baelish, aka Littlefinger, who is clearly the mastermind behind every machination in Game of Thrones. Littlefinger knows his demographics, how to sell ice to a snowman and where all the bodies are buried (probably because he placed them there). His all-knowing all-seeing powers and ability to play everyone like chess pieces point to one infallible truth: the man knows his data.
Lesson 6: Create a catchphrase
If you, your three-month-old baby, dog, and 86-year-old grandmother haven’t heard “Winter is Coming” at least once in your lives, check your pulse(s).