Astral plays the Game of Thrones

The new HBO drama based on the popular novels is being launched with a cross-platform promotion aimed at engaging hardcore fans and new viewers alike.

In promoting its newest series, the fantasy-themed Game of Thrones, Astral had a complex mandate: appeal to the existing, rabid fanbase of the novels the show is based on, and lure in traditional HBO Canada subscribers as well.

Game of Thrones, which premiered last night, is an HBO Original series billed as ‘The Sopranos in Middle Earth,’ which follows medieval noble families as they vie for political supremacy. It is based on a series of epic novels by author George R.R. Martin.

In creating the series’ promotional plan, Astral leaned heavily on digital to reach both the 18-to-34-year-old demographic that makes up the novel’s primary existing fan base, and to reach the 35-to-54-year olds that are HBO Canada’s main customers, Jennifer Potts, marketing manager, movie services, Astral Television Networks tells MiC.

‘The media campaign is a three-phased approach – tease, launch and sustain – aimed at creating a high level of anticipation for the series,’ she says. ‘Game of Thrones has a very excited fan base, so we knew there was a lot of interest as soon it was announced we would be doing the series.’

With a media buy from Media Experts and creative done in-house, the campaign includes web banners targeted at fantasy novel enthusiasts, Facebook video engagement ads, YouTube video ads and a Microsoft Hotmail homepage takeover.

The Facebook video ads target females 35 to 54 (with creative focusing on the love stories in the series) and males 18 to 34 (with creative focusing on the political struggles and battles). The YouTube video ads will appear on the movies and entertainment channels.

The campaign also leverages all of Astral’s radio, OOH and print properties, with advertising appearing on all platforms throughout April and May. In addition, 60-second promotional spots will be shown in 740 Cineplex cinema screens before films geared at males over 18.

The genre, however, is ripe for transmedia-style fare, and HBO and HBO Canada looked to deliver on that front with a website packed with interactive elements. In addition to the traditional extras such as behind-the-scenes footage, the HBO Canada website also includes custom featurettes on the four main families in the series and The Maester’s Path, an online game in which users are encouraged to ‘complete sensory challenges’ for series-related rewards.

Astral also created exclusive Canadian content for the website, including The Citadel, a page with weekly quizzes and promotional offers, Own The Throne, an avatar generator that ‘puts users on the Iron Throne’ and The Night’s Watch blog.

HBO Canada is carried by Astral’s The Movie Network in Eastern Canada and Corus Entertainment’s Movie Central in Western Canada.