- Market research firm YouGov reports that several major brands benefitted from tying their promotional efforts to the final season of HBO's popular "Game of Thrones" series, including Adidas, Oreo, Urban Decay and Johnnie Walker.
- More GoT fans have a favorable view of the Oreo brand compared to the average American, with 12% of viewers also fans of the classic sandwich cookie compared to 3% of consumers, according to YouGov. Similarly, 3% of GOT fans have a positive view of Adidas, compared to 1% among average U.S. consumers. Oreo also saw the most lift in positive discussions, or buzz, among brands associated with the show, over the last season.
- GoT fans and average Americans feel about the same about Starbucks, reflecting how the brand tried without success to capitalize on a production mistake. A Starbucks cup was mistakenly left in front of the Daenerys Targaryen character in episode 4 of the final season, but the coffee chain — which didn't create an official brand partnership — didn't get much of a lift from fans.
Overall, the sentiment was positive for brands with "Game of Thrones" tie-ins during its final season, which reached new viewership highs on HBO. However, the new research from YouGov also showcases the limitations of brand partnerships with premium programming. While the 12% to 3 % difference in GoT fans preference for Oreos versus average Americans constitutes a statistically significant impact, the other differences cited by YouGov do not: 3% compared to 1% for Adidas, 2% compared to 0% for Urban Decay, 1% compared to 0% for Johnnie Walker and 2% compared to 1% for Starbucks. Additionally, the ability of tie-ins to generate buzz for brands was mixed, with only Oreo experiencing a significant lift.
Recent research by BrandTotal suggests brands using social media to promote their collaborations with "Game of Thrones" failed to target female fans, a misstep that could be one reason some brands didn't get as much mileage out of their collaborations as they might have, as 42% of the show's viewers are women.
Because HBO doesn't have ads, brands didn't have visibility during the actual showings of GoT so they developed other strategies for connecting with fans. Oreo, for instance, created a parody of the GoT title sequence, made entirely with Oreo cookies, which it distributed on YouTube in April. To date it has been viewed nearly a million times. There was also a limited edition of a GoT-themed cookies. Adidas launched a "Game of Thrones" collection while PepsiCo's Mtn Dew brand released a white, brandless, limited edition can that reveals show content when chilled.
YouGov's research also shows the natural inclination of the series' fans toward certain brands, which could point to a missed opportunity for brands that didn't take advantage of this existing affinity. Series fans, for instance, have an especially favorable view of Apple, Toyota, Tesla, Southwest Airlines and Disney World in particular, compared to the general public. Fans are also more likely than average viewers to use Venmo, shop at Stop & Shop, buy a ticket at Frontier Airlines, watch The Rachel Maddow Show or own dogs.