'Game of Thrones' Season 7: How Its Launch Is Getting Promoted Outside the U.S.
From a subway premiere in Moscow and White Walkers in London to a "marathron" in Italy and a show of water, fire and more in Dubai.
With Game of Thrones kicking off season 7 on HBO in the U.S. this weekend, fans worldwide are gearing up for the return of the hit show to see the latest twists and turns in the battle for the Iron Throne.
HBO already brought winter to downtown L.A. for the season premiere. And networks around the globe have been promoting the launch date of the new season, some with marketing stunts using key characters of the drama based on George R.R. Martin's best-selling book series.
Here is THR's look at some of the promotions and events tied to the season 7 launch in various countries.
Britain - White Walkers hit London
Winter arrived early in Great Britain. Fans and passersby in London may have been shocked this week when they spotted The Night King descending on the capital on horseback from Hadrian’s Wall, joined by a troop of White Walkers.
Sky, which airs the show in the U.K., spoke of sightings at such London tourist attractions as Oxford Circus, Tower Bridge, The Tower of London and Buckingham Palace. The stunt was designed to promote the return of Game of Thrones to Sky's Sky Atlantic network and Now TV streaming service on Monday, July 17.
Five actors were transformed into White Walkers for the stunt with the help of specially designed prosthetics and a team of stylists and body paint artists. Sky says it took more than eight weeks to create the full costumes, and each actor spent four hours in makeup before hitting the streets of London.
"It may be summer in the U.K., but after six seasons, winter has finally arrived in Westeros," said Zai Bennett, director of programs, Sky Entertainment UK and Ireland. "With Jon Snow crowned King in the North, Cersei on the Iron Throne, Daenerys Targaryen and her colossal armada crossing the seven seas to Westeros and the Night King moving south at the helm of a truly terrifying army of the dead, the greatest battles are truly ahead of us."
Over 5 million viewed each episode of season 6 across Sky’s platforms.
This weekend will also see a two-day party at Milan’s 15th century Sforzesco Castle, featuring free installations and screenings dedicated to Game of Thrones. Around the event, Sky will host parades of cosplayers, live concerts and DJ sets, themed make-up sessions for kids and sword dueling and fencing performances.
Anyone visiting the castle should also watch out for White Walkers. They are rumored to be unleashed this weekend at the castle and will later venture out into Milan’s subway system, between the Duomo and Cairoli stations.
Sky also organized an actual marathon, or "marathrone," to mirror the television marathon and to promote Sky's Game of Thrones box sets. Runners are chasing, from Rome to Milan, a giant truck that is screening the first six seasons of the hit show.
The runners began their journey at Sant’Angelo Castle in Rome and will finish 600 km later, Sunday at Sforzesco Castle with a live screening of the new season opener on the walls of the Gothic fort. The run on Sunday is open to the public, and anyone can follow the madness on Sky Italia’s dedicated website.
Game of Thrones is wildly popular in Canada. Bell Media recently sent out warning letters to Canadians without cable subscriptions who have apparently been illegally downloading episodes of the HBO fantasy drama.
Winter has already hit the country, literally, with Australians, especially in the southern states, shivering through some real cold spells in recent weeks. So to launch season 7, Foxtel, the exclusive Australian TV home of the show, is using the chilling Night King in an array of larger-than-life, interactive, out-of-home experiences.
With season 6 breaking pay TV audience records in Australia, Game of Thrones season 7 is being used by Foxtel, to heighten awareness and build subscriptions to its newly re-launched streaming service Foxtel Now. Foxtel airs and streams Game of Thrones in Australia concurrently with its U.S. East Coast premiere.
To compete with streamers Netflix and Stan, Foxtel is making its drama pack, with Game of Thrones on premium drama channel Showcase, available for AUS$15 a month, bringing its pricing in line with the local streaming services.
As part of its digital marketing plan, the network has created special short videos that trace the journey of three main characters – Cersei Lannister, Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen. The videos are featured on StarWorld's Facebook page and are also airing as promos on the network ahead of the season launch.
In a bid to spark some online fan engagement, the videos feature a witty voiceover to describe the characters' back history. The Daenerys Targaryen video, for example, says that she "was married to some crazy horse-riding leader who was angry all the time and was bullied by her whiny brother whom we all felt like punching."
StarWorld is also promoting a "Game of Predictions" challenge that it will hold on its Twitter account every Sunday once the new season begins airing. The winner of the contest will get to visit the Game of Thrones set in Northern Ireland.
Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand - pencil tip art and popsicles
HBO Asia has also been promoting the show's return in its various countries. Sixteen Game of Thrones-themed sculptures "on tips of fragile graphite pencils produced by renowned Russian artist and sculptor Salavat Fidai" were exhibited in Singapore and are now being shown in Malaysia, for example.
Plus, HBO Asia teamed up with Taiwanese ice dessert outlet Ice Monster to produce exclusive limited-edition Night King popsicles. It said 100 popsicles were given out each day over two weekends to fans who uploaded a photo of the White Walker on Facebook or Instagram with the #GoTS7TW hashtag. The entire Ice Monster outlet was Game of Thrones branded for almost three weeks.
In Thailand, the Night King and his White Walkers, were also spotted at various locations in Bangkok handing out limited edition popsicles to fans.
Dubai - show of water, fire and more
Pan-Arab pay TV operator OSN — which has exclusive rights to Game of Thrones across the Middle East — is throwing a “water, fire, lasers, lights, music and pyrotechnics” show to celebrate the launch of season 7 on Monday. The event will take place at the Dubai Festival City shopping mall, which will also feature the Iron Throne itself starting Friday.
Vlad Kozlov in Moscow, Ariston Anderson in Ischia, Pip Bulbeck in Sydney, Nyay Bhushan in New Delhi, Alex Ritman in London and Etan Vlessing in Toronto contributed to this report.