Much like Jon Snow’s formidable climb of the north wall, OMD were faced with some daunting challenges to conquer.
After four years, who wouldn’t have heard about this imposing HBO production?
The success of the show formed a challenge in itself. If you weren’t watching the show by now, simply knowing that another season was about to start wouldn’t be enough to convince you to get on the bandwagon.
This had to be more than just a new season trailer and a call to subscribe.
OMD needed to create something that jumped off the screen and made its way into people’s everyday conversations. The agency needed to get New Zealand as excited about the premiere of the show as the online community was.
There were two kinds of New Zealanders who didn’t watch the show on Soho:
1. Those who had heard of Game of Thrones but had decided it wasn’t for them.
2. Those who already loved the show but used other (illegal) means to watch it.
Communications challenge 1: Convince Kiwis who weren’t watching to give the show a go.
Communications challenge 2: Prove to passionate fans adept at downloading or streaming ahead of NZ broadcast, that SOHO channel was the best place to watch Season 4.
No easy task.
However SKY had an ace up its sleeve; from this season, it was now able to show New Zealand each Game of Thrones episode the very same night it aired in the United States.
Two key insights drove OMD's campaign strategy and idea.
1) Non-fans would need to be convinced by passionate advocates to give the show another chance
2) Piraters were excited but impatient and already involved in the online hype for the new season release
While those in the know were actively involved in their own online conversations, the agency knew that this did not touch non-viewers, nor draw them to SoHo.
OMD discovered that Game of Thrones fans raved about the show for a range of reasons – its high production value, mythical story lines, epic battle scenes and intriguing relationships.
One thing they all agreed on was the evil nature of King Joffrey. Even non-viewers had heard his name!
Joffrey inspired a level of passion not seen before. OMD found discussions all over the internet about how much everyone hated the arrogant, sadistic and murderous boy-king. The internet was overflowing with memes, gifs and edited videos making fun of the character.
To harness the communal hatred for King Joffrey and give it a single, shared focus that fans and non-fans alike would talk about, OMD could create something huge – making the passion for the show that exists online, felt on the streets of New Zealand.
Their communications strategy:
Galvanise fans and non-fans to be part of the downfall of King Joffrey.
It was crucial to build online excitement around the premiere and make it feel huge, but given the very small budget, OMD needed to leverage social networks to drive the campaign.
Their campaign idea: #BRINGDOWNTHEKING
To drive conversations between fans and non-fans the agency placed a huge statue of King Joffrey in the centrally located Aotea Square in Auckland city and invited everyone to exact revenge on the boy-king.
The statue drew a parallel with notorious real world dictators and almost immediately, the people of Auckland started taking pictures and sharing them in social networks.
Once the discussion around this statue had truly started, a winch was placed on the square and attached to a rope around Joffrey’s neck.
Signs were placed around the statue and a website was launched with a live stream of the city square and its statue. The signs and website posed a question: “it takes millions of voices to bring down a king. Does he deserve it?” Waves of messages started flooding social media.
Fans were then able to make their voices heard and bring down the king through the power of social media. Every tweet that included #bringdowntheking would turn the winch and pull the rope a fraction tighter, eventually bringing King Joffrey crashing down to earth.
On Monday 7th April at 5.30pm, to the sound of thunderous applause and cheers, King Joffrey was finally brought down in Aotea Square by hundreds of thousands of people who had interacted with the campaign online.
OMD definitely succeeded in getting New Zealand as excited about the premiere of the show as the online community.
But most importantly the ratings were through the roof.
More people watched Game of Thrones on SoHo than ever before. Compared to the Season 3 premiere, average ratings improved a massive 30%, and OMD signed up a record number of new subscribers to SoHo.