'Game of Thrones' "Error" that made Starbucks richer by $2.3 billion

HBO's popular franchise, the Game of Thrones a.k.a GOT gave Starbucks billions of dollars worth of free advertisement.

Jon Snow spoiler alert

During the feast scene in the much awaited season 8 episode 4, where all the survivors celebrate the defeat of the Night King and the White Walkers, viewers eyes were captivated by a modern-day disposable cup in front of Daenerys Targaryen. Although the logo printed on the cup was not lucid, many fans assumed a Starbucks drink and started to post across popular social media platforms: Twitter and Facebook.

game of thrones coffee on the set

We all have been amused with the flying dragons and pretty much everything from the medieval era where the producers pour millions for each episode to make the imagined fantasies  look as realistic as possible. But yet, someone left a disposable cup on the set.


HBO later tweeted out for clarification that the cup was not coffee but herbal tea, though many people believed it to be a Starbucks cup, you know the one where you get your name misspelt

But it was too late, as people stormed out and talk about the infamous coffee house chain which received tons of press coverage. 

Starbucks popularity

As a result of this gaffe, if we take a look at Google trends, people have been talking a lot about the ubiquitous coffee house in the United States recently. The number of people who searched the term "Starbucks" rose significantly on 6th May, Monday. A day after episode 4 released.

Starbucks google trend data

Starbucks google trend data

Starbucks google trend data

If we take into account, Starbucks has received more than 10,500 mentions in radio, television worldwide. In addition, more than 193,000 mentions on the internet within 48 hours since the episode aired. 

"Error" or Coincidence?

This incident has left many people to choose sides on whether it actually was a mistake or a coincidence, but it will always remain debatable. 


Stacy Jones, CEO of marketing company Hollywood Branded, estimates that the publicity was worth more than $2.3 billion. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime collision of opportunity for Starbucks," she told CNBC. "But really, this is just the tip of the iceberg, because what isn't being monitored or estimated is the word of mouth and social media on top of this."


From Hamro we have spoken with Ángel Velilla, the CEO and Production Director of McFly Audiovisual, an audiovisual production company that is part of our product development network to obtain a more technical view, with years of experience in filming advertising scenes.


  • There is no place for error from the producers of such scale. The spectators see a shot that lasts a few seconds, but it takes several minutes or sometimes even hours to shoot that until the directors give it the OK. Each scene, moreover, is shot several times. Roll a plane and give it for good at the first, however well it has apparently gone, it is almost impossible for such incident to occur, especially when there are millions of dollars at stake.

In the modern era, digital agencies often stand up to challenges that require a more aggressive and less conventional marketing strategy, and this is exactly what Starbucks has achieved with this error. And of course, anyone would take advantage of such cases. 

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