GM Thought of the Week: Starbucks & Game of Thrones- A Missed Opportunity?

Game of thrones

GM Thought of the Week: Starbucks & Game of Thrones- A Missed Opportunity?

Last week the internet was a-buzz with the ultimate filming mishap – a Starbucks coffee cup captured in a shot of the juggernaut that is Game of Thrones. Over a week later, and this editing accident is still the cause of numerous headlines around the world. Most recently the now-infamous “Starbucks” coffee cup has provided the coffee chain with a reported $2.3 billion in free advertising (not including estimated word of mouth and social media on top of the reported Online, TV & Radio coverage).


This accident should have sparked the imagination of Starbucks Social Media Management team to develop a whole host of witty and engaging social engagement. This in anyone’s books, was a Golden ticket to build brand personality on what was ultimately the world’s stage. Most brands find it an overwhelmingly big challenging to try and position themselves as part of the conversation. This was a money can’t buy opportunity to reach the masses, and showcase its brand tone/personality and character.


So what did Starbucks do, to capitalise on this opportunity? Sadly, their response was just one simple & uncharismatic tweet:

starbucks tweet

For many, including myself, this was a missed trick of significant proportions. Starbucks could have done anything. Why not (spoiler alert), play on the fact that Daenerys (the dragon queen), was drinking a Starbucks after they had won the great war. Perhaps focusing on the need for a coffee in the morning to face Monday’s biggest battles. Beyond that and thinking full integration of customer experience, why not produce a Games of Thrones style coffee, or limited-edition Cup (much like their renowned red Christmas Cup), to drive in-store to be part of the conversation.


Unfortunately, Starbucks failed to showcase an aspirational and fun personality many expected the brand to have. While this was an opportunity missed for Starbucks, there are lessons to be learnt to avoid this pitfall and ensure your brand effectively communicates with its audiences across all forms of media. There are also ample opportunities for brands to showcase brand personality through the form of smart association. For example, anyone with a time saving, hassle free, baby product might want to congratulate and offer support to Megan & Harry following the arrival of their new-born son. Or a brand such as Hugo Boss, might want to set the cat amongst the pigeons, by speculating that yet to be discovered H from Line of Duty is in fact Hugo, Hugo Boss.


So with this in mind, what’s the best recipe to engage with audiences and ensure media approaches are integrated into the tone of your brand? An integrated media strategy comprising various forms of media, and a touch of brand association often does the trick.



Generation Media is a leading independent media agency, the number 1 specialist worldwide for communications to children, young people, families and the entertainment sector. If you’d like to find out more on how to engage with your audience and benefit from brand association, please email:



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