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By Hannah Bowler, Senior Reporter

August 30, 2022 | 5 min read

The hotly-anticipated Game of Thrones prequel series House of the Dragon dropped this week following a year-long epic marketing campaign. In Europe, Sky and Now tied for their first joint marketing campaign – we found out how they did it.

On Monday at 2am (August 22) the HBO-produced series was simulcast across Europe on Sky and Now. In the UK alone an impressive 1.3 million tuned in at 2am to watch the premiere.

The return of the juggernaut franchise had a hefty marketing budget, with experiential activations that tapped into fandoms, 3D out-of-home (OOH) ads and influencer activities. HBO delivered an independent US campaign, which also used 3D OOH.

“There are few fandoms in the world that can rival Game of Thrones,” says Jamie Schwartz, Now marketing and merchandising director. “Working with Sky, we wanted to deliver a beast of a campaign and provide a fan experience like no other for House of the Dragon.”

It was also the first time all Sky territories have run the same activations in tandem. There have been 3D activations by experiential agency Rapport in European cities, with fire-breathing dragons spotted in London, Dublin, Milan, Glasgow, Nottingham and Norwich. In London, the Iron Throne was implanted in the Tower of London, while in Amsterdam the Beurs van Berlage building was filled with props and a dragon’s head.

“The biggest challenge was managing the phasing across multiple markets due to summer holiday seasons falling at different time periods with each country,” says Olivia Browne, marketing director at Sky Entertainment.

Nods to the show could be seen throughout Now and Sky’s brand identities, with their logos set on fire and platform takeovers. For Now, the modified logo and House of the Dragon brand identity were crucial to driving the message that the show was also available to stream.

Sky and Now also put on two premiere screenings in Leicester Square and Amsterdam with a red carpet and full cast. “Knowing how cinematic and epic this prequel would be, we treated it like a film release,” Browne says.

Sky’s in-house agency Sky Creative was behind the campaign, led by creative director Alastair Austin. The cross-territory strategy was orchestrated via its ‘brand hub,’ which essentially centralizes all Sky creative campaigns and then localizes and distributes the work.

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Partnering with Mediacom, Now and Sky used ownable and targeted media on its digital channels to target existing Game of Thrones fans and reach fantasy genre audiences. “We had the advantage of this being an existing franchise with a hugely engaged fanbase, who we were able to tap into to help promote this new series,” Browne says.

Schwartz adds: “Demand for Game of Thrones is consistent even 12 years later, but to amplify this, we have been tapping into the excitement with our communications for over six months, and engagement has been above expected.”

Credits

Sky – Sky Creative

Campaign creative director: Alastair Austin

AV creative director: Max Pickwood

Designer: Damian Martinez

Creatives: Alex Sheppard, David Bodenham, Ediz Huseyin and Joe Carter

Motion designers: Liz Vinson, Ogodinife Okpue, Thea Koutas, Mark Paul, Hussain Rashid and Jacqui Dancer

Producers: Monica Macasieb, Christoph Steinmetz and Norman Dickfeld

Assistant producers: Lucy Hewetson-Smith, Olivia Watters and Sam Turnell

Artworker: Hayley Hilario and Shaun Harwood

Now – Sky Creative

Creative directors: Akinsiku Akindele, Amy Cook and Andrea Locatelli

Creatives: Paul Jacobs and Ryan Watson

Retoucher: Lee Binding and Kristina Stankeviciute

Designer: Cat Hutton, Sten Sheppard, Dan Cameron, Albert Barnes, Marcia Stewart and Georgia Brown

Producers: Rupert Savage, Saskia Chambers, Tristan Upton, Francesca Di Lisa, Michelle Sherlock, Amy Scott, Jonothan Tastard and Mark Weston

Copywriters: Hannah Liddle and Simon Aldridge

Artworkers: Shaun Harwood, Josh Fazey and Rihan Khan

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