How Game of Thrones maker HBO joined forces with the Red Cross to increase blood donations

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How Game of Thrones maker HBO joined forces with the Red Cross to increase blood donations

The Background

There is no shortage of blood in Game of Thrones (GOT), but there is at the American Red Cross, so to promote season 8 of GOT, HBO forged an alliance with the Red Cross, challenging fans to demonstrate their devotion through donations, and literally bleed for the show.  

The Big Idea

As with Game of Thrones’ continent Westeros, winter hit the US in a big way in 2018, with freezing temperatures forcing the Red Cross to shut down hundreds of blood donation drives. 

Looking to help replenish supplies, and do a little season 8 promo-ing on the side, HBO launched Bleed for The Throne, #ForTheThrone, asking GOT fans to provide blood donations in exchange for the chance to win tickets to the season 8 world premiere.

What They Did

It was unveiled to fans and media on Twitter with a suitably theatrical, blood-thirsty, call-to-action video asking fans if they are willing to Bleed for the Throne. 

Supported by blood-art inspired GOT character portraits, featuring the characters Jon Snow, Cersei Lannister, Arya Stark – and a free limited-edition T-shirt competition. 

The campaign is still running with HBO set to unveil a Bleed for the Throne immersive experience at the upcoming SXSW film festival, and 15 other markets to follow suit, working with local blood donation groups in their own countries.

The Review

It’s really bloody good, and for a series that needs no introduction, taking a cause-led route is admirable (forgetting that Untold festival did something very similar in Romania a few years back). Pairing blood loss with blood shortages, and the impact of the winter in Westeros is super-smart, and the whole thing cleverly plays off GOT fanaticism, taking it to an intravenous conclusion.

But, and I know it is still running, it feels like it could have done so much more for the launch, taking this further, making this bigger – where is the big bloody blowout, the shock and awe Red Wedding moment? Giving away T-shirts for donations and tickets to a premiere just feels a little limp following such a strong initial idea. 

However, this is Game of Thrones and if there is one thing we know about GOT is that you don’t know what’s coming next. 

So, let there be dragons, white-walkers and loads of ‘Christ! I didn’t see that coming’ bits to the campaign, and hopefully it gets a bucket load of blood too.

In Hindsight

It is just a shame it didn’t go bigger on the launch, this is HBO and Game of Thrones, surely, it could have done something worthy of the scale of the show to unveil it? 

Maybe it’s going to happen at SXSW, but if so it should have held off the unveiling until then.

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Chris Grabowski

Chris Grabowski

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