Winter is here, for broadcasters of Game of Thrones at least: the eighth and final season of the TV fantasy epic has arrived, and international media owners are striving to engage local audiences with advertising and experiential marketing.

HBO, the US pay TV company behind the show, achieved record ratings with the broadcast of the opening episode, as 17.4 million people tuned in live or viewed on catch-up on Sunday 14 April.

The new season launch had been hyped with a huge $20m marketing campaign, beginning with the Bud Light collaboration ad broadcast during the Super Bowl in February.

Using the hashtag ‘#Forthethrone’, HBO’s subsequent array of activations has included displaying the show’s Iron Throne at the Rockefeller Center in New York, challenging fans to seek out six thrones hidden around the world, and encouraging viewers to donate blood to the American Red Cross.

HBO sponsored Snapchat’s Landmarker Lens for locations such as the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., enabling users to take AR selfies featuring dragons, while visitors to AT&T stores could attempt to kill one of GoT’s zombie White Walkers with a Magic Leap-powered VR experience.

In the UK, Sky partnered with Volvo – sponsor of Sky Atlantic, GoT’s broadcast channel – to travel across the country with its ‘Seven Kingdoms’ tour, while the Coldstream Guards encountered the show’s Night’s Watchmen for a PR activation at the Tower of London.

To promote the fact it was simulcasting the show with the US, Indian streaming platform Hotstar’s video and OOH campaign suggested that early viewers can wield the threat of plot ‘spoilers’ to their advantage.

And in Australia, TV network Foxtel created a ‘Grave of Thrones’ experience at Centennial Park in Sydney featuring 30 fake gravestones, to remind consumers of the many GoT characters to have been killed over the past seven seasons.

Sourced from Wall Street Journal, Wired, Mobile Marketer, Variety, More About Advertising, afaqs!, AdNews; additional content by WARC staff