DDB SYDNEY / FOXTEL / 2019
Foxtel have been the official broadcaster of ‘Game of Thrones’ in Australia for the last seven seasons. The premiere of the final season in April presented an opportunity to capitalise on the global hype surrounding the show, to help build brand love and drive sales. In recent years, Foxtel has had trouble fending off newer, more ‘hip’ broadcast offerings from streaming services like Netflix, and the brand has been perceived as ‘outdated’ and ‘uncool’. This television event was particularly important in positioning Foxtel as not only a place to find the world’s best content, but as a brand that is culturally relevant, understands fans, and rewards them with experiences that competitors aren’t capable of. Foxtel needed to prove to fans that they understood the culture of TV fandom, so we invited them to attend an experience not of this world.
Game of Thrones isn’t just one of the most popular shows of all time, it’s also one of the deadliest, with more than 100,000 Kings, Queens, Giants and mythical beasts having lost their lives since it began. These deaths have had an incredible impact on fans, who react with delight and despair in equal measure. Recognising this, we tapped into an audience insight in a way no one had before, and built a ‘final resting place’, to promote the final season. The ‘Grave of Thrones’, a large-scale ambient activation, was an enormous cemetery erected in one of Sydney’s most popular public parks, where fans of the show were invited to come and pay their respects to those who had died over seven seasons. Turning fictional characters into something much more real than they were on screen.
The final series of Game of Thrones meant media would be saturated with show speculation four days prior to launch.
So the activation was designed to cut-through with a new story that increased Foxtel’s relevance and love with fans of drama, whilst reinforcing that Foxtel is only way to watch.
With the activation ultimately attracting thousands in Sydney, it was designed to be seen by millions online. Crucial to this were a media preview and rapid capture and distribution of beautiful content. For the latter, a closed set was arranged one hour prior to the preview for photographer Romello Pereira and agency's content department. The strategy was then to distribute assets far and wide alongside rich media materials to ensure detailed coverage.
Foxtel built a 2,000 square metre cemetery in one of Sydney’s most popular public parks. The cemetery featured the tombs of 34 of the show’s most notorious characters. Each grave was layered in reference to their life and death. The tomb of Ramsay Bolton for example, who was eaten by his dogs, featured the macabre placement of a dog bowl at the base. Each headstone featured the season and episode that the character died, and using Foxtel’s mobile streaming service, fans could re-watch their death while standing at their grave. A streamable audio-tour provided further information about each burial plot and its references. The sheer size of the graveyard required extraordinary coordination by a number of partners, and took teams of Australia’s best set builders, sculptors, designers, and artists to bring to life. The stunt ran for 3 days across the weekend before the premiere of the final season.
The response was extraordinary and in just three days we saw a 300% increase in searches for Foxtel, resulting in a 17% increase in viewership. The Grave of Thrones cemetery saw nearly 30,000 people come and pay their respects, with some driving hours across the state of New South Wales to be there. The Grave of Thrones website saw more than 20,000 unique visitors and more than 5,000 downloads of the cemetery map. Social media was alight with tens of thousands of images, videos, tags and mentions across various platforms. Foxtel's brand sentiment was at an historic high of 97%, and there were more than 350+ global news stories mentioning Foxtel. Coverage included local mainstream television news, global news, digital publications, and mainstream local and global press. This resulted in more than 410 million media impressions, making the ‘Grave of Thrones’ the most successful promotional experience in the brand’s history.
A&E TELEVISION NETWORKS, New York
2016, A & E TELEVISION NETWORKS