How Ikea responded to the news HBO's Game of Thrones uses its rugs as costumes

Ikea adorned in pelts

HBO's Game of Thrones is one of the most spectacular and fully realised worlds to ever grace TV, however, costume designers have been cutting corners, using Ikea rugs as pelts and capes for some of its extras - which Swedish retailer was all too happy to jump on.

In the show, the northern-dwelling Nightwatch, led by commander and king of the north Jon Snow, wear animal skins as to not freeze when winter comes. Instead of decking out the soldiers in real pelts, costume designers elected to take a trip to Ikea to buy Peta-approved Faux animal skin rugs.

Responding to the news, Ikea decked out some of its staff in the rugs in a real-time marketing stunt, jumping upon the Game of Thrones bandwagon in an organic way.

The Drum touched down with Aisha Furtado, consumer PR manager, Ikea UK and Ireland to see how the stunt played out.

The Drum: Was the marketing team aware that Ikea goods were being used to furnish the show?

AF: We weren’t aware that Ikea’s rugs had been used in the show until the PR team spotted it in the news on Monday morning. Together with our PR agency, Hope & Glory, we quickly developed an idea that provided our ‘twinkle in the eye’ take on the news, it was low cost and could be pulled together in a couple of hours. As any PR professional will know, timing is of the essence when a story breaks and we wanted to be able to respond as quickly as possible.

We connected with the Ikea Wembley store and the deputy store manager walked the shop-floor identifying co-workers that looked the part to re-create the Game of Thrones look. Within a couple of hours we were in the rugs department with the co-workers, trying on the different rugs and generally having a bit of a laugh.

The images were sent to the media and were up on our social channels by the end of the working day creating a lot of excitement and engagement ahead of Monday’s Game of Thrones episode.

TD: What ideas were Ikea floating around before adorning staff in the nightwatch rugs?

AF: Given the short timeframes, we stuck with our first idea and ran with it.

TD: Do you expect a flow of customers come Halloween?

AF: Following the revelation from costume designer, Michelle Clapton that Ikea rugs were used to make the capes of Night’s Watch in Game of Thrones, we’ve already seen a 775% increase in online searches for the SKOLD rug since the news broke.

Customers, inspired by Ikea co-workers who posed in the Wembley store donning their rugs, have gone ‘rug-crazy’ to get the look. The ‘Game of Throws’ look sweeping the nation. Even Jeremy Kyle whilst presenting Good Morning Britain has got behind the trend, so who knows, it could go well into Halloween.

TD: Any further GoT activity planned?

AF: We haven’t planned anything additionally at the moment – these activations are best when they start from organic trends on social media or in the news. It’s just great for Ikea to be part of the conversation and to see people embrace our response.

Check out The Drum's Game of Thrones coverage here.

John McCarthy

John is an entertainment marketing reporter at The Drum. He writes about the amazing marketing stories coming from the movie, TV, music and video game industries. He's also the hunt for the weirder trends in marketing and advertising.

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