The Coffee Cup From That GoT Ep Saw Starbucks Win $3 Billion In Free Advertising
It may be pervasive in the States, but one thing we can say with certainty is that Starbucks – let alone the craft of roasting coffee beans – didn’t exist in Westeros.
With all the anticipation and hype that surrounded the final season of Game of Thrones, it came as something of a shock when a coffee cup was left on set during the filming of the eighth season’s fourth episode. Fans rushed to social media, half in disbelief, only to find their greatest fear confirmed: no, the dim lighting wasn’t causing you to see things – there was, in fact, a coffee cup left on set.
While HBO may be hanging their heads in shame at the guffaw, Starbucks are clearly revelling in the moment. While the coffee giant had absolutely nothing to do with Game of Thrones, the craft services cup left in the scene was credited to the coffee roasters and subsequently, that led to some pretty pricey free publicity.
“Starbucks Cup” was trending throughout the week, despite the fact that the cup wasn’t even from Starbucks. As word of the stuff-up spread, experts sought to find out just how much free advertising Starbucks was receiving. According to PR subscriptions service Critical Mention, there were 10,627 mentions of Starbucks and Game of Thrones online and on TV and radio around the world.
Stacy Jones, CEO of marketing company Hollywood Branded, used the tally to estimate the value of the Starbucks buzz, one she found to be worth $2.3 billion. And as Jones told CNBC, this figure didn’t even account for the buzz generated through word of mouth.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime collision of opportunity for Starbucks,” she said, “but really this is just the tip of the iceberg, because what isn’t being monitored or estimated is the word of mouth and social media on top of this.”
The cup has also led to some deeper insights offered about the human psyche. As Dan Hill, CEO of Hill Impact says, “The public response has more to do with the country’s ‘gotcha culture’ – picking people and brands apart – than it does the power of Starbucks.”
For others, it confirmed what many are perceiving to be a rushed final season and the disappointment to see Game Of Thrones spend so much money on season 8, only to let a modern coffee cup steal the scene.
HBO has since digitally removed the controversial cup. Admitting that it was an error, the company released an official statement that read: “The latte that appeared in the episode was a mistake. Daenerys had ordered an herbal tea.”
Sadly, it’s something that is now burned in our retina. Game Of Thrones might just never be the same again.