In the fourth episode of the eighth (and final) season of Game of Thrones, fans were very upset to see that a modern-day coffee cup had gone unnoticed by show producers and ended up in the middle of Winterfell. Some viewers said that the oversight was an indication of just how little effort HBO is putting in to wrapping up this series. Social media went crazy as this “news” of the Starbucks cup went viral. One Twitter user said “I think the Starbucks cup is really a metaphor for how sloppy the plotting of this season has been.”
So, while the fans of this blockbuster series were up in arms about the mistake, Starbucks was soaking up the publicity. Some thought it was a paid media placement but HBO openly admitted it was a mistake and have since digitally edited the cup out of the scene. Meanwhile, one source said that Starbucks had gotten over $11 million in media coverage from the banter about this incident in the first two days afterwards. Not too shabby!
“Starbucks is the victor in this,” said the Valley Stream, New York-based PR executive at TaylorMade Media. “If you’re the kind of person who hears people talking about it at the water cooler, you’re more apt to say, ‘Let me go to Starbucks.'” USA Today, 5/6/19
The best part about this story is that the infamous cup wasn’t even from Starbucks. It was a cup of herbal tea from craft services. Still, everyone assumed it was a Starbucks cup because everyone knows this brand. Starbucks got all the mentions and all the free brand exposure by default. A radio show host on KTCL-FM in Denver sarcastically said, “Oh, it’s a good thing that Starbucks got all of this free exposure. They really need it.”
Of course, the coffee giant took this stroke of luck a little further by using the opportunity to promote one of their new summer drinks. Gotta love it.