Wednesday 21 February 2018

AdLib: North's ahead of the Game in marketing

Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones
A beachgoer looks at the massive footprints on Portstewart Strand, heading in the direction of the Giant’s Causeway, as part of Tourism Ireland’s Games of Thrones campaign

Northern Ireland is increasingly seen as the home of 'Game of Thrones' (main picture) - and it's not by accident. While the full-time whistle on Tourism Ireland's campaign to promote the North by targeting millions of fans of the show worldwide has yet to be blown, top line data shows last year's marketing spend of €200k scored €1.6m in earned media play.

This year to date, PR to the same value of €10m in ad spend has been generated, with a live 10-minute slot on CNN alone valued at around €500,000. Tourism Ireland's head of marketing communications, Brian Twomey, said the engagement rate on Twitter averages 7pc versus a benchmark of 3pc.

The joint venture with US cable channel HBO is due to attract 20,000 visitors to NI this year, with many taking part in Game of Thrones coach tours and other shared experiences linked to the Sky Atlantic hit series. The initiative provides a £10m injection to the North's economy.

Consumers were enticed by various Game of Thrones stunts, with props from the show appearing in and around Belfast. Old-style wooden signs pointed the way to the Iron Islands and other Westeros locations, next to where the series is filmed. Targaryen-farmed dragon eggs were 'sold' in Belfast's St George's Market in exchange for 125 gold dragons - the Game of Thrones currency.

Market shoppers were jolted in their tracks by a remote controlled egg which rattled and wobbled. The show's 'Winter is Coming' tagline struck home as the fountains in Custom House Square froze solid after a visit from the show's White Walkers. The grand finale was in Belfast Zoo, where an animatronic dragon with a 10ft wing span took to a custom-made enclosure.

Twomey says the campaign is now used by Twitter as a global case study. 'The New York Times' cited it as best-in-class travel advertising. Research by US cable channel HBO in Tourism Ireland's top four markets - Britain, the US, France and Germany - showed the extent of the series' ties with the North and its draw for holidaymakers.

The Antrim coast is the world's third-ranked filming location after New Zealand ('Lord of the Rings') and New York ('Sex and the City'). Twomey says last year 1m clicks, comments and shares were generated. Tourism Ireland is third to Australia and the US as the most followed tourism authority on Facebook with almost three million fans. With 270k followers on Twitter, it's second only to VisitBritain.

* Research agency Spark did a vox pop to see how brands perform across the generation gap. Under-30 millennials and over-50 baby boomers took part in interviews. Audi emerged as the top car brand for under-30s, while Mercedes got the nod from the over-50s.

Heineken is the most popular beer among millennials, and Guinness scoops the baby boomer prize. Under-30s shop more at Tesco, while over-50s tend to go for Dunnes. Superdry is the favoured fashion brand for millennials and M&S gear is worn more by baby boomers.

3 Mobile is the top mobile brand among both age groups. Sky wins out with millennial broadband users, while UPC gets the baby boomer vote.

* Following a protracted review, Aer Lingus has appointed two new PR agencies. Q4 is to handle the airline's corporate account and Notorious PSG takes charge of consumer assignments. FleishmanHillard, Murray and the previous incumbent, WPP's Wilson Hartnell (WHPR), also pitched. The news follows the PSG group - which came about with the merger of Pembroke and Slattery agencies - winning consumer and sponsorship assignments for the LifeStyle Sports retail chain. PSG's Kelli O'Keeffe works to LifeStyle's marketing and visual merchandising director, Debbie Byrne.

* MediaVest managing director Michael Clancy, pictured, is the new chairman of the Marketing Society. He replaces Ignite Research boss Mark Nolan, who remains on the council. Clancy is joined by new council members Behaviour & Attitudes' Anita Mullan, Chris Upton, Boys and Girls; Andy Pierce, Core Media and Murray's Avril Collins. Council members are elected annually and 13 candidates competed for this year's four vacancies.

* Aldi will again sponsor The Restaurant on TV3. Filming of six one-hour shows gets underway at the Fitzpatrick family's Courtyard Bar and Grill in Donnybrook next month for broadcast in the new year. People can apply online to dine for free. Resident critic Tom Doorley will be joined by chef Marco Pierre White, whose image is used to market the restaurant. Sadly, the show goes on without Paulo Tullio, who passed away recently.

* After 11 years with Nestle Ireland, Michelle Tormey leaves the Swiss food group today as its marketing communications transfers to the UK. Tormey previously worked with poster specialist PML and at Young Advertising, now Havas Worldwide Dublin. AdLib wishes her well in the future.

Michael Cullen is editor of

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