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  • Writer's pictureCarolyn Butler-Madden

Winter is coming...

Whether or not you're as excited as me about the final series of #Gameofthrones, I thought this #causemarketing partnership was worthy of excitement on a number of levels.

HBO has partnered with the American Red Cross to invite fans to prove their devotion and “Bleed for the Throne”.

In winter in the US, blood donations drop due to the extreme cold and snow stopping people from leaving home. So to get more donors out, the Red Cross have used the popularity of the cultural phenomenon that is GoT to engage and rally fans.

Leading up to the final series, the Red Cross are holding blood drives across the US, including through colleges and universities.

Their call-to-action rallies people - “Winter is finally here, and the needs are dire. No matter who you’re rooting for to take the throne, you can be a hero for patients in need.”

Adding incentive for participants to donate blood is a chance to win a trip to the season eight world premiere of “Game of Thrones.”

At a strategic level, this partnership is brilliantly aligned. Given the well-known blood-spilling nature of the series, it would be hard to find a better cause for Game of Thrones to support. Add to that the fierce loyalty of GoT fans and I think we’ll be looking at some very strong results. Beyond short-term blood donations, it will also be interesting to track longer term donors that originate from this campaign.

Creatively, the call-to-action “Bleed for the Throne” speaks directly to fans in the language of the show, creating cut-through and maximising engagement.

Amplifying this campaign in a powerful way was a brilliant experiential activation at South by Southwest (SXSW).

SXSW is an annual conglomerate of film, interactive media, and music festivals and conferences that take place in mid-March in Austin, Texas, United States. It’s the place to be for people at the cutting edge of creative and professional growth.

The “Bleed for the Throne” activation offered SXSW attendees an immersive experience of their favourite GoT characters amidst storylines of how they bled for the throne. Here is part of the description of the experience from HBO:

“In a dark room, attendees react to a light-based encounter inspired by Arya’s blind fight with the Waif in Braavos. From there, each fan is asked to do their own version of Cersei’s walk of shame (non-nude, of course), surrounded by faces — including a Septa’s — chanting “shame”. Finishing the walk, guests journey to the Castle Black to step into Jon Snow’s shoes as he’s betrayed by the men of the Night’s Watch. The final stop is Tyrion’s epic rallying cry at the Battle of Blackwater Bay, where they come face-to-face with a life-sized version of The Mountain.
After the immersive experience, attendees are offered a seat as they await their names to be called by a Red Priestess. A choir and orchestra performs an original piece inspired by the music of GoT, and blessed by the series’ composer Ramin Djawadi, as attendees prepare to bend the knee in front of the Iron Throne. All participants are awarded with a physical Hand of the King pin, which has an extra fiery flare through Snapchat. Outside of the Bleed experience, the pin allows its bearers discounts with additional SXSW vendors — 20 percent off Shake Shack, free popcorn at Alamo Drafthouse, a free t-shirt from Franklin Barbeque, a free Cersei-inspired haircut (or $10 off another) at Birds Barbershop, a free pint of Bloodworks Blood Orange IPA from Austin Beerworks, and 10 percent off all orders at Brew & Brew.”

You can read about the full experience here

The one criticism I have of this campaign is that it hasn’t been replicated here in Australia!

Would you have bled for the throne if it was?

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