By now, most everyone knows about the infamous coffee cup (and subsequent water bottles) accidentally seen on HBO’s final season of Game of Thrones.
Even though the network has since-removed the digital bloopers, CNBC reported that Starbucks enjoyed a doubleshot of free advertising (estimates are over $2.3 billion), regardless of the fact that a misplaced cup was from the production’s craft services, and not the Seattle-based coffee chain.
Like Reese’s Pieces in E.T. and Chevy cars in Transformers, companies spend over $10 billion a year on television and film brand integration. The coffee cup “gaffe” got us thinking: what if it wasn’t a mistake? What if the producers had been cleverly embedding logos throughout the series, right before our very eyes? Subtly weaving subliminal brand messages into the storylines in deceptively brilliant ways. The Workish team had to investigate, and you might be surprised by what we discovered. Here are a few not-so-accidental product placements you might have missed.
Here are a few not-so-accidental product placements you might have missed.
Diet Mountain Dew
Also a hit song by Lana Del Rey (which unfortunately didn’t make the soundtrack), fresh-tasting Diet Mountain Dew offers a sugarless version of Mountain Dew’s illustrious sugar/water combination. Perfect for those moments when you’ve fought The Night King’s army of the dead, and are settling in for a long, awkward afterparty. Best served in a chalice.
Once the official sunglasses of That One Guitarist from ‘80’s Super-Group Damn Yankees, Oakley used their Fire Iridium Razor Blades to shade mortal eyes from wildfire explosions, Drogon’s blinding breath and in some cases, a darkly-lit overcast sky.
Holiday Inn Express
Pledging “A better morning…one bite at a time,” Holiday Inn Express rolled-out their official hotel partnership for corporate offsites in Braavos and discounted (red) wedding blocks. Ask for well-kept rooms in their Game of Thrones Fortnight Staycation Package, with beds made for a king…one head at a time.
Oracle, Virgin Mobile, EY, Audi, and more
Similar to the brand-sponsored superyachts in The America’s Cup regatta, some of the world’s biggest companies participated in Game of Thrones’ Seven Kingdoms Cup. Using in-player video pre-roll, firms like Ernst & Young subtly reminded viewers that “Even if you’re under attack by dragons, there’s no better time to revisit legacy audit practices in today’s disruptive economic times.”
Sure, a variety of subtle products were featured in Season 8, but brand integrations in Game of Thrones are nothing new. Look to the pilot episode for a cleverly-placed iPhone 4S (16G) next to Ned Stark’s sword during the scene where he meets King Robert Baratheon (himself, an Android guy).
So, with Game of Thrones over, what’s ahead for other HBO shows? According to producers, Bell’s customized Media Conglomerate Family Shared Plan may not make it to Succession’s second season, and Stetson’s Open Robot edition may be stuck off Westworld.
But keep an eye out for “a transportation partner to be announced this spring” in the new Deadwood movie:Al Swearengen’s mobility prospects will soon be improved.
Sandy Marshall (@MarshallSandy) is the creator of Workish (@Workishwork) and a partner at Norman Howard, a Toronto-based comedic content shop. He’s also a producer, television actor, and business speaker.