Brands Take on Pop Culture in Quest for Virality

Brace yourselves. Game of Thrones is coming. In a little over a week, millions of fans will tune in to catch its highly anticipated season 4 premiere, and brands are looking to capitalize. Incorporating elements of pop culture into advertisements is a long-standing practice for both brands and marketers—with good reason! If executed correctly, these ads will fall upon an enthusiastic fan base, made up of people willing and excited to watch, share and talk about your content.

Most recently, Quiznos introduced “House of Thrones,” a House of CardsGame of Thrones mashup. The branding is subtle in this three minute clip that Chris Ruszkowski, Quiznos Vice President of Advertising and Marketing, claims is all “about getting people to spend more time with our brand.”

The video has earned 237,000 YouTube views and 6,700 social shares in three days. With this mashup and the rest of the content on its Toasty.tv site, the company hopes to lure in younger consumers. According to Hollywood Reporter, “they’ll [Quiznos] be looking for things that will resonate with pop culture aficionados.”

“It’s very important for our target market that we have relevant content,” Ruszkowski says.

Making any sort of reference to Game of Thrones is the way to go, especially given its passionate fans and average audience of 14.2 million per episode. As the season 4 premiere date looms closer, people are increasingly excited to watch and share related content online. For example, Vitor Petrone, ViralGains’ #1 Game of Thrones fan, and I exchange several related videos on a daily basis—whether it be Game of Thrones trailers, parodies, etc. I actually shared the Quiznos video with him this morning—my case in point.

Another notable brand, Virgin Mobile Australia, hopped on the Game of Thrones bandwagon late last year with its “Game of Phones,” a location-based alternative reality mobile app. Smartphone users downloaded the app and competed with others for over $200,000 worth of rewards. Almost 40,000 players joined the game, which generated more than 2.5 million screen views across both Android and iOS and drove over 103 million online impressions.

Infusing advertising efforts with elements of pop culture, whether it’s a TV show, feature film, up-and-coming celebrity, etc., is a great way for brands to increase awareness and engagement amongst targeted fan bases, ultimately allowing for the maximization of earned media.

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