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Advertising Agencies in Westeros
September 6, 2017
By Brett Grischo

I’m sitting with a friend in a coffee shop and told him I need to write a blog on the Explore site. I asked him for topic ideas and he said Game of Thrones. That made me wonder what advertising existed in Westeros and there is quite a bit more than I realized once I thought about it.

First off, every castle is run by a family and they have their own colors and designs on flags, shields and banners. The C-level employees tend to wear whatever they want, but the folks down in operations tend to be in uniform that incorporates the company colors and is designed in a way that is unique to them. Just like McDonald’s doesn’t want their peeps to look like Burger King, the Stark House sure doesn’t want their men on the ground to be mixed up with the Lannister’s crew of King’s Landing.

The primary marketing medium in Game of Thrones appears to be direct mail which any viewer of the show knows that means Ravens. Tell you what, those Ravens are fast! They get things done waaaaaaaaaaay sooner than our snail mail. I’m not sure what the open rate is in snail mail anymore – heck, the open rate of my mailbox alone is about once a week and the open rate of any mail in there tends to be well under 2%. I believe the open rate for Ravens is darn near close to 100%.

Personally, I’m a big fan of guerilla marketing. True it may have lower reach, but it sure can make an impact and create a buzz. The marketers in Game of Thrones are great at a very specific form of guerilla marketing – beheading. Somebody’s noggin on a stake can be an extremely effective tactic for affecting behavior – one of the hardest things to do in advertising.

A lot of branding folks recommend primary research before developing marketing campaigns and/or to smooth out operations. For example, it is common practice today to send out secret shoppers – whether within one’s own operations or more often than not – at the competitor’s locations. Game of Thrones does this very well. They have spies everywhere! Tell you what, Lord Varys would kick-ass as CEO of a secret shopper company here in the States. He knows how to recruit and get his team in the field with none the wiser of any secret shopping.

Another common tactic in today’s world of marketing is to have an effective and recognizable mascot – something that instantaneously affiliates the character with the company, in a positive manner. Think GEICO lizard. The best example of this in Game of Thrones has to be Daenerys Targaryen’s dragons. Perhaps she doesn’t always get a positive perception from the target market, however they say there is no such thing as bad publicity and I’m pretty sure she’s cool with her mascots.

Of course, word of mouth is as strong in Westeros as it is anywhere else. Like, when the King says something, people listen. And celebrity endorsements can be good, although you always have to be careful about the integrity and reputation of your endorser. For example, I’m just going to assume the sweet plum wine in King’s Landing is fricking awesome because Cersei Lannister is constantly drinking it. I want to get me some right now! However, she has turned into quite the murderous incestuous tyrant and perhaps that’s a poor role model for Napa Valley’s Duckhorn Vineyard to use in their next promotion of The Discussion (a lovely red that I highly recommend and I’m no murderous incestuous tyrant!).

There really is no point to this blog post other than illustrating the fact that we are all being marketed to, pretty much non-stop, here in the United States, in the fictional world of Westeros and everywhere else. Plus, my buddy Rich told me to write a work blog on Game of Thrones.

Shame… shame… shame…

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