The Game of Thrones Newsjacking Battle

May 29, 2019

In the end, it turns out storytelling was the winner in the quest for the Iron Throne in Game of Thrones’ final season. Bran is Westeros’ keeper of stories and brand guidelines, which makes him the most qualified king in a post-Daenerys world (according to Tyrion, not necessarily all of us at Braithwaite).

But in the battle for newsjacking the Game of Thrones finale, Air New Zealand has perhaps the strongest claim to the throne. Tons of brands tried to tie their offerings to the biggest season finale in TV history. This includes HBO, which aired a two-hour documentary on May 26 to keep the Thrones news cycle alive for another week.

Air New Zealand Video Hits its Target Audience

Air New Zealand took a slightly different approach. They incorporated the lukewarm response to the finale with the next logical news peg – when George R.R. Martin will finish the sixth book in the series that serves as the basis for the show.

The airline invited Martin to New Zealand for an all-expenses-paid writing retreat in a brief video that touts everything great about the country, whether you’re a distracted bestselling writer or an everyday tourist.

At first, the video didn’t have a ton of views, but it did manage to get one critical viewer – Martin himself.

He responded to the video on his charming, old-timey blog and thanked the airline for the offer. He promoted his upcoming conference appearance in New Zealand. Much more importantly, he also set a deadline for his next book. He said if he doesn’t bring the book with him to his 2020 conference appearance, New Zealand can lock him up until he finishes.

Low Budget, Big Impact

Martin’s tongue-in-cheek response was just serious enough to get press coverage. Every outlet talking about his self-imposed deadline also mentions or embeds Air New Zealand’s video.

The best part is, the video didn’t require a massive budget and weeks of planning to put together. It was produced quickly and inexpensively, using a clever format and stock footage to tell a short but noteworthy story.

Long Story Short: Air New Zealand has picked up on something many brands are realizing – it’s easier than ever to make good-looking, compelling videos without the need for extensive timelines and budgets. You don’t need to partner with a pricey production shop. The videos can be put together almost as quickly as an article or a press release and can create a more engaging response to a news hook.

All hail Air New Zealand. Jacker of News, Master of Stock Footage, Promoter of Brand Message.

This article also appeared in our weekly newsletter, Long Story Short. It was written by Alex Irwin.

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