Campfire is an immersive company that creates hype or ‘buzz’ for a new product that has yet to hit the market; in the company’s own words they are “a marketing agency that shapes perceptions and enhances brand preference through social storytelling, digital content, and physical experience.” Although Campfire has done work for many companies and brands (such as L’Oreal, Harley-Davidson, American Horror Story, and Discovery Channel’s Shark Week), one of the most fascinating brand launches to me (since I am already a fan) was the Game of Thrones launch. HBO came to Campfire asking for their help to build enough hype for the series premiere of their new show, Game of Thrones that it would be a success.
Campfire took on a truly interactive role in this project by creating the concept of an “immersive fan engagement program based around the five senses.” The objective of the campaign was two-fold: to foster anticipation for the existing fans of the literary series Game of Thrones written by George R.R. Martin, as well as to invite the lay audience (or those with no past experience with the franchise) to become involved in Campfire’s campaign. Ultimately, the campaign was set up to create so much ‘buzz’ and anticipation for the premiere that the fans (both of the books and of Campfire’s campaign) were satisfied with the concept of the show before they had even seen it. Being satisfied with the show and associating such positive elements of their interactive experience with the show is one of the key factors that ended up making the premiere such a success; at the end it didn’t matter so much how great the actual premiere was (although that contributed substantially), but more on the predispositions of the audience that had been garnered by this marketing company, so that Game of Thrones would become a sensation even before it was aired on screen.
The immersive fan engagement program that Campfire created tied back to the essentials of storytelling. They utilized social media outlets, the excitement of spinning out a story, digital content, as well as the physical experience as brought to life by their interactive program with the five senses. The first of the five senses they tackled was sense of smell, by sending bloggers and prominent influencers of the Game of Thrones social circle a kit of specific fragrances that contained the essence of certain locations throughout the realm of the show, Westeros. Within two days of receiving this scent kit, the media influencers had taken to their blogs, YouTube channels, Facebook, and Twitter to report to their fellow fan followers.
The senses of sound and sight were developed by creating an interactive game fans could participate in that included eavesdropping on conversations throughout the kingdom, and the view of a first-person perspective seeing everything a character from that world would have seen. For the touch element, Campfire created an app that transported you to the region that was experiencing the weather of wherever you were at, so for all you Game of Thrones fans, if we pulled up Chicago on the app it would take us to the coldest regions of the realm, in the northern reaches of the land close to the Wall. The final sense Campfire orchestrated was the sense of taste – they partnered with a top chef to create dishes that were commonly referenced in the books, and then sent out the creations on a food truck to parts of L.A. and New York. The event brought die-hard fans, foodies, and HBO’s target audience together and the convention-like circumstance of the event was covered by the news, social media outlets, bloggers, and cuisine magazines.
By the time Game of Thrones premiered, a well-established fan culture had been put in place by this immersive program. This fully interactive media campaign method for brand awareness is what Campfire calls a “transmedia approach” that has the ability to tell stories across different media channels.
Check out the video describing Campfire’s campaign here:
Campfire: Game of Thrones. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://campfirenyc.com/work/hbo-game-of-thrones
A Game of Thrones. (2014, January 20). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=A_Game_of_Thrones&oldid=591594876
Making Game of Thrones. (n.d.) Retried from http://www.makinggameofthrones.com/production-diary/tag/photo?currentPage=2