Launching Game Of Thrones
How we launched Season 3 on blinkbox
Game of Thrones is an epic TV drama packed with brilliant characters, spectacular plot twists and magnificent dragons.
When it came to highlighting its third series landing on blinkbox ahead of the DVD and Blu-ray release in February 2014 and before rival services Lovefilm Instant, Netflix and iTunes, our quest was to create a disruptive piece of marketing that would strike a chord with diehard fans while tempting the uninitiated to check out the show.
The challenge was that the series had just aired on Sky and its launch had been extensively covered by the media.
We found our inspiration in a scene from Season 1 in which the character Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) stumbles across dragon skulls in the castle dungeons.
What if someone stumbled across the remains of a dragon in Britain today? A 40ft skull, for instance… washed up on a beach famous for its paleontological history? What would the reaction be?
Our Game of Thrones skull would prove that an audacious, creative and well-executed stunt could deliver huge results in earned media and drive mass consumer awareness across millions of social timelines.
Objectives and Strategy:
Because it is notoriously difficult to ignite interest from the mainstream media for a second screening, our stunt had to offer something utterly unique.
In addition, blinkbox wanted an idea that would transcend traditional advertising and drive chatter online. They also wanted to give something back to their customers by treating them to an enchanting spectacle.
We felt fans would appreciate the fact the scale of the sculpture reflects the epic ambition of Game of Thrones itself; the attention to detail was in keeping with the show creator George RR Martin’s meticulous approach to fantasy storytelling.
The skull would offer the media a spectacular image that was both different from previous Game of Thrones coverage and surprising and intriguing in its own right.
We would follow this up by bringing the skull to London, transporting it on a flatbed lorry to give fans the chance of catching a glimpse of it. The public were invited to share their pictures using the #dragonskull hashtag on Twitter.
The skull would form the magnificent centrepiece of a special screening for blinkbox customers and journalists at the Tower of London, attended by cast Maisie Williams and Joe Dempsie and celebrity fans of the series.
We briefed a team of three sculptors to design, construct and paint the skull, which measured 40ft long by 8ft wide and stood over 9ft tall. They would have just 6 weeks to complete the task.
From the beginning we knew the skull would not be overtly branded with any blinkbox logos. We were confident the spectacle would drive people to ask who had been responsible for it and why. The element of mystery, we believed, would actively encourage engagement and thus achieve one of our key goals.
We shot and produced a ‘making of video’ for YouTube that would tell the story of how the dragon skull ended up on the beach.
We staged a media call with local media and a set of images was released to national newspapers and online media, with everyone from mainstream entertainment outlets to Game of Thrones fan sites targeted.
Pictures were also drip-fed onto Twitter from the blinkbox account and via Facebook, with additional support from Games of Thrones studio HBO.
Campaign proposition and execution:
We knew that we had to select the right location to install our dragon skull for the reveal. A busy London shopping centre might have had more footfall, but we decided Charmouth beach on Dorset’s Jurassic coast, an area famous for its treasure trove of dinosaur fossils was the perfect setting.
With its vast spine disappearing into the sand, fossil hunters, holidaymakers, children and local dog walkers would be stopped in their tracks on seeing the dramatic spectacle.
We used the natural light of the sun as it came over the top of the Golden Cap to complete an amazing picture.
Most of our photos were completely unbranded. This showed real bravery and trust from our client that we could deliver the messaging in the story around the images. However, in some images blinkbox flags can be seen discreetly placed in nearby sand castles.
The Journey To The Tower Of London
Coverage of the skull’s journey to London and the Game of Thrones fan screening generated further media coverage, with shots of the cast taken in front of the skull creating a fantastical setting akin to the show itself.
For a few lucky customers, the Tower of London was the place to be as blinkbox celebrated Season Three’s launch with an exclusive red carpet event.
In attendance were celebs, fans and journalists; but the big surprise of the evening were GoT stars Maisie Williams and Joe Dempsie!
- Within hours of the reveal, #dragonskull was trending on Twitter as we landed on the home pages of Mashable, Buzzfeed and Reddit.
- Media highlights in the first 24 hours included: BBC, Daily Telegraph, ITV, Metro, The Sun, Daily Mirror, Financial Times, Radio Times and Huffington Post.
- Several major international outlets including the New York Times, USA Today and Le Figaro covered the story.
- 250+ pieces of fully credited coverage
- 35 million Twitter impressions
- Dozens of sites have embedded the 'making of' video which has been viewed over 670,000 times.
- Game of Thrones author George RR Martin was one of many who posted the dragon skull on his personal blog.
- There were 11,927 blog posts about the stunt with blinkbox name-checked in most.
- blinkbox saw a 190% increase in referrals
- A six-fold increase in new Facebook fans over the period compared to the previous month.
- On the day Game of Thrones Season 3 arrived on blinkbox the service saw a 632% year on year revenue hike
- The company celebrated its biggest trading day in its history.
- Prompted brand awareness for blinkbox has doubled year on year
The Making Of Video
What The Marketing Press Said...
'For once, it's not HBO coming up with masterful moves to promote hit show Game of Thrones. British movie and streaming service Blinkbox thought up this clever stunt to promote the arrival of season three of the show on its platform.’ Advertising Age
‘Clever Marketing’ Mashable
“Make no bones about it, it's a cool way to advertise.’ The Huffington Post
"Perhaps the coolest Game of Thrones-related marketing since the dragon-shadow newspaper ad, which flew across the New York Times print edition in February."? Ad Week
"A very cool promo for Game of Thrones. Smartly branded with flags stuck in nearby sand castles. Very nice unconventional advertising.’? Buzzfeed
"A marketing stunt of epic proportions" Business Insider
'You might wonder how peoples surprised reactions advertises blinkbox, but then my dear you have forgotten 'earned media' and how the 'traditional' agencies ate up the PR awards in Cannes this year. It's all about generating chatter.'? Adland.Tv
‘So cool.’ Jezebel.com
Full gallery of Pictures