Olivia Parker
Apr 12, 2019

Game of Ads: Lavish activations abound as GoT returns

Is DDB and Foxtel's 2,000 square metre virtual graveyard built to 'honour' late Game of Thrones characters excessive? Exceptionally so—but it's all in the spirit of the unbridled hype surrounding the final season of the HBO series.

Ogilvy's ad for KFC
Ogilvy's ad for KFC

Our inboxes have suddenly filled up with fire, family feuds and fantasy. The final season in the Game of Thrones epic premieres on April 14, and Asian marketers are excited. We wonder whether campaigns related to a TV series have ever attracted more media spend. Here's what we make of some GoT-themed campaigns so far. 

Chicken is coming

KFC and Ogilvy have reignited the award-winning 2018 Hot & Spicy campaign to celebrate the final season of the series. 

Launching online, in print and outdoor over the next few weeks, the ad, pictured above, features a dragon hovering against lightning-lashed sky above a delapidated bridge, breathing a huge tower of what looks like fire—but is actually a giant pile of KFC chicken—to the ground. 

There's a reason this campaign in its original form, which featured the chicken-fire imagery coming out of a rocket mid take-off, blasting from the exhaust pipe of a racing car and forming the backdrop of some superheroes in a Charlie's Angels-type setting, won two Silver and two Gold Lions for Industry Craft at Cannes last year, as well as more in the Outdoor and Print & Publishing categories. It's a masterclass in simple, powerful design, and Game of Thrones is the perfect tie-up. (Credits at bottom of page).

Walk the walk of a White Walker

Speaking of tie-ups, we were initially very excited by four new pairs of trainers adorned with Game of Thrones references. The 'Stark', 'Targaryan', 'Lannister' and 'White Walker' shoes, by the artist and designer Mark Ong, who made them for his Singapore shop SBTG, were commisioned by HBO Asia and are on display in The Shoppes, Marina Bay Sands, in Singapore from April 17 through 30. 

But that's just it—while you can enter a contest to win the shoes, they can't be bought, not even for piles of Lannister gold. Which seems rather a shame, especially since each pair is embedded with a near-field communication chip containing access to behind-the-scenes videos relating to each design. Too cool. Just imagine if you won them, but your feet were the wrong size? It seems a crime worthy of Ramsay Bolton not to make more. 

Clockwise from top right: 'Lannister', 'Stark', 'White Walker', 'Targaryan'

Pay your respects at the 'Grave of Thrones'

We're not sure there are many other scenarios in which a brand could get away with this, but DDB Sydney and Foxtel have pushed the boat—nay, the entire Iron Fleet—out and built a 2,000 square metre cemetery in Sydney's Centennial Park. The ghastly installation features the 'graves' of 34 characters who have died in the previous 67 GoT episodes, from dastardly Joffrey Lannister to the creepy manipulator Littlefinger.

The grave of 'Lord Littlefinger'

Each grave is hand sculpted and adorned with allusions to that character's 'life'. So the grave of 'Hodor', the gentle giant who gained his name by stoically 'holding the door' against the White Walkers coming to kill his friends, is a headstone that appears to be held up by two stone hands. There are even two giant mausoleums for House Stark and House Baratheon family members.

The cemetery can be visited between April 12 and 14 by fans who want to "reflect on the deaths" of the 34 key characters and over 100,000 more who 'died' over the last seven seasons.

The Stark mausoleum

It is hard to know how you'd feel visiting this, especially if the Sydney sun and blue skies were shining down over all this dark death and bloodshed. Impressed, probably, if nothing else, at the "hundreds of hours" DDB says were spent by the sculptors, designers and builders who worked on this monstrously ambitious activation.

Hodor's grave

KFC ad credits

Chief Creative Officer: Reed Collins
Executive Creative Director: John Koay, Matthew Nisbet
Creative Director: Fung Chan, Jim Fong
Art Director: John Koay
Senior Content Designer: Alex Burton
Executive Group Director: iris Liu
Account Director: Rita Lam
Account Executive: Ervan Luk
Photographer: Illusion Bangkok
Illustrator: Illusion Bangkok

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