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A Promotion Fit For the Seven Kingdoms?
By: Tom Roarty
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This week ended the Game of Cones promotion from HBO and Foursquare, which involved people checking into ice-cream shops in New York and San Francisco to find out who would win the Iron Cone. Whichever shop got the most check-ins got to give away free samples alongside the throne from HBO’s “Game of Thrones” at the South Street Seaport in New York City. Big Gay Ice Cream was the victor for New York with nearly 700 more votes than runner-up Milk Bar. Although HBO has traveled a “Game of Thrones” exhibit in the past, this set up was oddly similar to Netflix’s “Arrested Development” promotion, with one exception: The turnout.
Back when “Arrested Development” launched its traveling campaign, it was much cooler out, and although there may have been some passing showers on that day, I believe I was dryer than I was today dealing with both the heat and humidity. People do not want to travel anywhere when they are uncomfortable, even if it is for a chance to sit on the Iron Throne. Just the mention of travel is a great segue to the next factor that may have contributed to the less-than-hoped-for turnout: The location of the event.
When Netflix dropped the Bluth’s frozen banana stand in New York, they did so in Midtown, which is a tourist magnet. Although both “Arrested Development” and “Game of Thrones” used social media as the catalyst to get the word out about their campaigns, there was a lot more foot traffic passing the banana stand, which helped to grow the awareness of the return of the show and helped to build the lines that spanned several blocks. Although the South Street Seaport is a really calm area of the city, there are fewer tourists there since New York’s downtown is far more complex to navigate, and there are limited ways of getting there. Even with knowing where the throne was going to be, it still was not as visible as the banana stand was in the location Netflix chose for it.
So was the “Game of Thrones” cross promotion a success? Well, let's break it down: From a product-promotion standpoint, it could have been stronger in selling the ice cream from Big Gay Ice Cream, especially if they could have found a way to sell the product at the location of the promotion. The samples were good, and had they had, say, rented a mobile ice-cream cart, I would’ve purchased a treat for myself because it really was that hot, and I’m sure others would have as well. From the perspective of turnout? Considering the popularity of the show, the line should have been way longer, although I am personally glad it wasn’t since I actually got to sit on the throne. As far as raising awareness for the show, it is not like “Game of Thrones” needed the help, which is good; because of the turnout I witnessed, I do not believe it received any.
As a promotion, maybe it didn’t hit the targets the marketing department would have hoped. However, just getting close to the throne, which on the show is made from swords, hence the name “Iron Throne,” it would’ve thrilled even a casual fan to actually sit on it. Maybe if it was a few blocks from where it was, say on Wall Street, the turnout would have been much stronger, but if that were the case, I may have not have gotten the experience I had, which just goes to show you can’t please everybody.


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