Campaign: Game of Thrones- Maesters Challenge
HBO needed a memorable campaign to support the launch of Game of Thrones, a TV series based on the book series A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Martin. To capture the attention of both the loyal fan base and a broader audience, they introduced the Maester’s Path challenge (Maesters were the experts of the kingdom of Westeros) in which fans were asked to test their knowledge of the books at themaesterspath.com and achieve Maester status. Puzzle challenges were tied to each the five senses.
For scent, 85 influencers received an alchemy kit which smelled like Pentos, a city reminiscent of Morocco. For sound, a new section of the website was introduced allowing them to eavesdrop on gossip at a Westeros tavern for clues hidden in the dialogue. For sight, a virtual reality game was launched simulating the top of the 700-foot wall that protects Westeros. Participants were challenged to stand guard and spot the enemy. For touch, a mobile app provided weather reports for locations in the books, such as Winterfell castle. For taste, food trucks in major cities distributed a Westeros-inspired menu created by celebrity chef Tom Colicchio.
Supporting promotions focused on the Iron Throne and included outdoor, print, online, TV, in-theater and radio in major markets including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Philadelphia. An eight-page magazine insert in Entertainment Weekly, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker featured two prominent characters feuding for control of the Iron Throne. Full pages and spreads ran in 12 other entertainment, men’s lifestyle and trade publications and newspapers.
Homepage takeovers and banner ads ran on social, entertainment, news and gaming sites. Outdoor media included double-decker bus wraps, bus shelters, subway two-sheets and phone kiosks. Custom extensions were built on bus sides and billboards to create more lifelike throne. In Manhattan, pedicabs were transformed into an Iron Throne on which consumers were offered free rides. Replicas of the Iron Throne were installed in public parks and high-profile, high-traffic areas in New York, LA, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and at WonderCon 2011. Consumers sitting on the throne could upload photos of themselves to Facebook or Twitter via onsite iPad stations.
The series premiered Sunday, April 17, garnering 8.7 million viewers in the U.S. during the first 17 days, and was renewed for a second season.