Ireland is attempting to replicate New Zealand's tourism success by branding itself as the real-life version of a mythical destination, and using the HBO logo adds credibility to the tourism board's campaign.
Game of Thrones has attracted a cult following over the past three seasons and Ireland, where part of the series is filmed, wants a piece of the profits.
The campaign will be run entirely on social media with Facebook and Twitter ads appearing now until early June in the U.S., Great Britain, and throughout Europe.
The social media ads will direct potential visitors to a website that maps out where Game of Thrones locations are in real life. It also include links to deals and booking tools.
Tourism Ireland did not pay HBO for the rights to use the show’s name and logo, but its agreement will be reviewed at the end of the campaign.
This is the first time the tourism board is taking the opportunity to exploit its connection to the blockbuster TV series, although tour companies have packaged trips to both Ireland and Dubrovnik, Croatia, another filming site for the series. A representative of Ireland’s tourism board says it has yet to measure an increase in visitors as a direct result of the show.
Connecting Fantasy and Reality
A challenge for destinations that represent mythical destinations is that viewers might not know where the scenes are actually be filmed. That’s why tourism boards have to proactively make the connection between a series and the actual place.
“The Tourism Ireland adverts are specially designed to bridge the fantasy of Game of Thrones with the reality of Northern Ireland,” Northern Ireland politician Arlene Foster said in a statement announcing the campaign.
The closest parallel is New Zealand’s success in branding itself as the real Middle Earth from Lord of the Rings.
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Photo credit: An example of Tourism Ireland's 'Game of Thrones' Facebook ads. Ireland.com