Game of Thrones, Part Two

Why brands should be inspired by the series

In Part One, we saw why Games of Thrones should inspire brands. Let’s talk now about some other reasons for the universal success of Game of Thrones and why this show surpasses others while many of the latter are often more profound.

One of the reasons is clearly the writing— a laser sharp writing with conflict in every single scene. And when we speak of “conflict,” we are not talking about a telenovela kind of conflict. It is true conflict, indeed bleeding true. The show does not hesitate to make its characters suffer, to confront them with cruel choices (Daenerys and her revolt of slaves), heartbreaking dilemmas (Jon Snow and his wildling love), to make characters fight who should love each other (Jaime and Brienne of Tarth).

As a matter of fact, death is all over and not a single character is immune— no one can forget the episode “The Rains of Castamere” with the infamous Red Wedding, a real shock for fans where two major characters died at once and in a totally unexpected manner. We recall the comments on the Internet that day. Some fans were furious: their sympathetic and kind heroes had been killed! Some commentators were anticipating a revolt of fans and a serious audience decrease. Maybe even the end of the show. But once more, let’s not forget about the addictive power of conflict…Far from being weakened or buried, the show made a quantum leap in terms of audience.

The screenwriters assassinated Robb Stark and propelled the series forward.

The Red Wedding, a true magic trick, sends a clear message to the audience: we will dare to do anything! You will never be immune because none of the characters will be. The threat is clear: the audience — thanks to conflict — feels a deep connection with the characters and therefore when one of them dies, they feel like they died with them. This reinforces the threat and the conflict for the whole series.

Conclusions for brands:

Dare to have conflict! Break the rules, the conventions, be disruptive. Conflict is a tool and one should not be afraid of using it! On the contrary, create it, exploit it, literally milk it until the last drop.

An example: take any perfume brand. In general, one sees a bombshell dominating a hyper-luxurious place. The bombshell in question is often a movie star. She (or he) walks, swims in an image as artificial as the one those glossy paper magazines know how to create so well. The emotions that these types of ads generate — when they generate any — are artificial emotions, created on Photoshop. These ads tend to suggest subtly, especially to women, that this perfume will transform them into stars and that men are going to fall for them.

Now imagine a story with conflict in a modern vision. We start with a stereotypical, old-fashioned 1950s American family. A woman prepares food with her family around the table. A bombshell from a perfume ad appears and says to her: “Honey, if you want to make your man happy, wear this.”

Record scratch. We cut to a modern image. A woman, the child of the woman in the 1950s ad, makes a meal with her partner. The same bombshell enters again, looking ridiculous in the modern frame. She starts again, “Honey, if you want to make your man happy—“

The woman stops her. She says: “What about what I want?”

She takes the perfume from the bombshell. It’s for her and her alone.

Boom! Conflict, surprise and disruption.