Do you watch Game of Thrones? Well I do, so when I was in Austin last week for South by Southwest, I knew if my schedule allowed I would need to swing by the Game of Thrones activation. I was at SXSW for work, but I didn’t get to attend any of the sessions as we were busy with our own event. But even just being around Austin during SXSW is an experience – there’s tens of thousands of people in town just for the festivals – Film, Music and Interactive – and pretty much every brand is there. While most events are “badge only” meaning you had to shell out hundreds of dollars for a conference badge, there were some brand events that were free and open to the public. Luckily, the Game of Thrones activation was one of them. Of course that comes at a price – a heck of a long line! I think I waited well over an hour just to get inside and wait some more.
From a meeting planner’s perspective, the activation was well-run although pretty crowded. There were three main “stops” once you were inside: a free sample of the new GoT beer, a photo op on the iron throne prop, and then an interactive game where you got to play with a fake sword and create a unique GoT-style portrait. You sat for a quick photo and then when it was your turn you got to wield the sword and slice at the targets which erupted into feathers, swords and branches while at the same time revealing your portrait. Think of it as a new spin on that iPhone game Fruit Ninja.
Some people were disappointed because the same activation last year had the oculus rift demo, a virtual reality experience. I didn’t experience that last year but I can guess that was a bit more exciting than the swordplay art, but the sword game was still pretty fun. And it was fun to watch everyone else do it while you waited in line. After your turn you could email your photo to yourself. They had some minor issues with the technology which led to some short bouts of downtime, but for the most part it seemed to work well. You didn’t need any skill to play, which is good for people like me who lack video game skills.
From a brand perspective, the best part was probably the hashtag – SXSWesteros, a nod to the setting of the show. People really got a kick out of the hashtag since it was so clever, which increased engagement.
Ad Week did a video summary which probably explains the sword game better than I could:
Do you watch Game of Thrones? Are you going to watch the new season in April?