Winter is coming. But before the final season of Game of Thrones airs on April 14, fans gather at SXSW to "bleed for the throne."
For those who follow HBO’s fantasy television series, Game of Thrones, audiences will know that each season has no shortage of gore as characters battle for the Iron Throne. With the help of marketing agency Giant Spoon, the network has decided to bring the bloodshed to life in a novel partnership with the American Red Cross for an aptly-named branded activation, Bleed for the Throne. From March 7–12, crowds gathered to donate blood, “join the fight for life” and be part of “the great war to come.”
The popular show has garnered millions of fans around the world, with 16.5 million viewers tuning in for its last episode, according to data by Nielsen. Harnessing the show’s popularity, an immersive experience with a social cause indulges those at SXSW to get a taste of what is to come for the series finale.
The first three days of the blood drive included a theatrical setting with over 80 actors and musicians dressed in Game of Throne costumes recreating a Westeros world in Austin. Every character from Dothraki soldiers to Wildlings had a backstory and lines to follow in a thoroughly thought-through script spanning over 100 pages put together specifically for the event. The authentic Iron Throne was even shipped in from the set in Ireland and on display surrounded by a robed choir and stony-faced soldiers guarding the grand prize. Visitors who “bent the knee” in deference to the Throne were rewarded with a Hand of the Throne pin.
SXSW Interactive was not short of big brands taking over spaces around the city for engaging activations. Amazon Prime hosted a Garden of Earthly Delights promoting its upcoming television series Good Omens where actors dressed as angels and demons roamed the grounds. Netflix took over an underground speakeasy on Rainey Street where live bands played and actors helped guide guests to solve a mystery and gain points as they gather clues.
However, when it comes to a truly immersive and meaningful branded experience, Bleed for the Throne encouraged visitors to roll up their sleeves and donate blood for patients in need. According to the American Red Cross, blood products are needed every two seconds in the US to help treat patients. Since the launch of the campaign, the number of new donors has increased by over 40% and the American Red Cross is on track to collect over 15,000 pints of blood on the first day of nationwide drives. The meticulously crafted event goes beyond the popup venue and screen, extending into a pledge for social good and inviting thousands to support the cause.