Many characters in HBO’s epic fantasy series “Game of Thrones” have sacrificed everything in the quest for the Iron Throne.
Now Mountain Dew is sacrificing its brand. The beloved beverage is getting in on the fervor leading up to the final season of the TV saga, which begins April 14.
Fans can use social media – and their real-world scavenging skills in New York and LA – to get limited-edition cans inspired by the show. Mountain Dew opted to focus on the character of Arya Stark, who as part of her training as an assassin with the Faceless Men of Braavos had to relinquish her identity to become “no one.”
These special Mountain Dew cans, which cannot be bought, have no visible markings and are an icy white color. But when the cans are chilled, the names on Arya’s kill list, including characters who killed some of her family, will emerge.
The “A Can Has No Name” marketing embraces the myth and magic of the TV series, but it was still “quite a big decision to sacrifice all our branding and our iconic green color,” said Erin Chin, senior director of marketing for Mountain Dew. “We had to run it all the way up the chain. But collectively we thought it was absolutely the right thing to do. This is a major moment in culture to tap into.”
Pent-up demand for the final season is building, making this a perfect time to market to a hungry – and thirsty – audience.
Research firm Parrot Analytics has found that U.S. demand for “Game of Thrones” is currently 156 percent ahead of demand for AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” and 172 percent ahead of Netflix series “Stranger Things,” based on actual viewership (streaming and downloads), social media activity and online research (reading, writing) about TV dramas for the seven days ending March 26
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It’s not just Mountain Dew getting in on the action. HBO’s relatively new parent company AT&T, which has closed its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, is involved, too. AT&T flagship stores in Boston, Chicago, New York City, and San Francisco will be taken over by “Thrones” with series memorabilia and costumes on display, digital games and special videos. And a special experience using the Magic Leap One Creator Edition augmented reality headset will be at available at the Boston, Chicago and San Francisco stores next week.
Brave enough to take on a White Walker? We are launching #TheDeadMustDie, an immersive #GoT Magic Leap Encounter with @magicleap and @GameOfThrones. Learn more: https://t.co/UQgSMJ3Q46. pic.twitter.com/trKnK0eqMu
— AT&T (@ATT) March 27, 2019
HBO recently set off its own scavenger hunt, hiding six thrones throughout the world, with one still unfound.
Mountain Dew’s packaging, which uses thermochromic ink that changes when chilled, is unique, but it’s not the first product to use it. Coors Light has used some form of the technology for more than a decade, according to Ad Age.
There’s also been another “Thrones” changeling tie-in. Last fall, a special Johnnie Walker Blended Scotch Whisky called The White Walker by Johnnie Walker had blue thermochromic ink that glowed when chilled, reminiscent of the glowing eyes of the show’s supernatural villains, the white walkers.
But Mountain Dew’s overall strategy “fully embraced our final season marketing campaign,” said HBO marketing director Alex Diamond. “We were inspired by their act of devotion and are excited to collaborate on a limited edition product that connects to one of our show’s most popular storylines.”
Inklings of Mountain Dew’s grand design began emerging Tuesday when NBA All-Star Joel Embiid, who is a Dew personality and a big “Thrones” fan, posted a short video on Facebook of him sitting on the Iron Throne sipping a Dew. Mountain Dew also posted the video to its accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Then, Wednesday night, all those social accounts adopted icy blue “Throne” iconography. With the coveted cans revealed, now fans can go onto those sites and using the hashtag #ForTheThrone tell Mountain Dew what they would sacrifice to have one of the tens of thousands of special cans delivered to them.
Clues to the locations of the special “Game of Thrones” destinations Mountain Dew plans in Los Angeles and New York will also appear on the brand’s social network accounts.
Also due to crop up is a special password that must be given to the Masters of Coin at the Dew destinations. That will earn fans a special coin that can be used to get a can from the Iron Vending Machine.
As the season premiere approaches, the social media assault will crescendo. “We want to get fans super-excited and get them to speculate, just like they do about who is going to end up on the Iron Throne,” Chin said.
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This article first appeared in www.usatoday.com
Guest Author: Mike Snider,Tech/Money reporter. I joined USA TODAY in 1990 as a medical reporter, but in a few years segued into the ongoing digital revolution in home entertainment. Along with Brett Molina, I founded the Game Hunters blog about video games, which won an Eppy award from Editor & Publisher as the best consumer tech blog.