‘Thrones’ is ending, but will live on in merchandise

NEW YORK — From wine to clothing to tours, HBO and retailers have cashed in through the years with “Game of Thrones” merchandise. “Thrones” is not only a huge international show but also a massive business, with all sides hoping to pad the bank during the show’s eighth and final season.

“It’s thousands of products, just a lot of stuff all around the world,” said Jeff Peters, HBO’s vice-president of licensing and retail. “We’re so busy we don’t stop and count.”

Products include makeup, beer, toy collectibles and even high fashion collaborations.

But while the show itself is a TV phenomenon, that doesn’t guarantee fans will flock to stores.

“It’s certainly good to be lucky. But you don’t get to where the merchandising programs are with HBO and what they’ve done with ‘Game of Thrones’ unless you have a true, point-by-point marketing and merchandising and retail strategy,” said product and licensing expert Tony Lisanti.

“This is a global property and every country may resonate a little different,” he said.

California-based Vintage Wine Estates has been making the official “Game of Thrones” wine for three years now, said Pat Roney, the company’s CEO. “Just the excitement all over the world with the calls that we get from almost 40 different countries to sell wine — it’s just amazing,” he said.

Popular tours of “Game of Thrones” filming locations in Croatia and Ireland have boosted small, local economies there, according to TripAdvisor’s Andrew Aley.

“Some really positive examples like Northern Ireland, for example, where it’s not somewhere that’s always been on every tourist’s radar and it’s now become one of the major pillars of tourism in that local economy,” he said. “But it’s one of those factors that’s then driving tourism to other attractions as well, like at Belfast Titanic or Giant’s Causeway.”

It wasn’t always this easy for HBO to find retailing partners for “Game of Thrones,” Peters said.

“At the beginning, nobody really knew what it was,” he said. “So, we were the ones making phone calls and we were saying, ‘Hey, you got to get in on this. We think there’s a great opportunity.’ As the show got established and got big, then all the calls came to us and people were just throwing ideas and pitches.”

Some of those ideas resulted in fashion collaborations with companies like Adidas, who created the now hard-to-find “Adidas x Game of Thrones Ultra Boosts” shoes, as well as a collection with men’s fashion designer John Varvatos.

“The one thing that always stands out in my mind from the first season was all the textures, all the way the leathers are finished, the artisan fabrics, and it’s a lot of what we do,” said Varvatos. “But I also didn’t want to make ‘Game of Thrones’ (clothes) where someone felt like they were wearing a costume around town. … So what you wanted to do is take that inspiration with a lot of the great details from the wardrobe from the show and put that into product that people actually could wear.”

There are also “Thrones”-themed board games like “Monopoly,” ”CLUE” and “Risk”; Danielle Nicole’s “Game of Thrones” handbags; and beer made by upstate New York’s Brewery Ommegang.

Just how much money is being made? No one really knows except HBO. And the number’s hard to estimate, for a reason.

“HBO wants to get as high a licensing fee as possible. It will not want the companies that license ‘Game of Thrones’ to know what deals HBO is striking so that those companies seek to obtain a lower fee,” wrote Dr. Larry Chiagouris, professor of marketing at Pace University, in an email to the Associated Press.

His broad guess of how much HBO is bringing in: “It’s a lot!”

Aside from the chance to make money, there have been other benefits to retailers joining forces with HBO. Take Urban Decay’s new makeup collection, for example.

“A couple of these products didn’t even exist in our line before. So the lipsticks were reimagined and have new casings and everything else,” said Wende Zomnir, founding partner and chief creative officer of Urban Decay (the company previously worked with HBO on the show “Vinyl”).

There’s been a push to get new “Thrones” products out in time for the last season, but Lisanti thinks that even when the show ends, the products will stay in demand thanks to streaming and planned spinoffs.

“As long as there’s new content, then the franchise will continue to be popular. And that content doesn’t have to be another series,” said Lisanti. It could be events such as a “travelling exhibition, concerts series, and events in cities and around the world.”

HBO isn’t worried.

“We’re striking right now while the iron is hot,” said Peters. “But we’re pretty confident that there will be interest in ‘Game of Thrones’ for a long time.”

Just Posted

Speeding a ‘constant concern’ for residents, says Red Deer RCMP

Red Deer RCMP ramps up its efforts to curb speeding in the… Continue reading

Central Alberta firefighters helping tackle High Level wildfires

Three Red Deer County firefighters and one from Innisfail arrived on scene Thursday morning

School bus crash in Edmonton sends 12 to hospital, 2 with broken bones

EDMONTON — Twelve people, including 11 children, were taken to hospital Thursday… Continue reading

Dogs and drugs don’t mix: Red Deer business wants to leave downtown after 18 years

One business owner is done with downtown Red Deer after 18 years.… Continue reading

Cast your votes for the Best of Red Deer

Nominations for the Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are officially… Continue reading

North Vancouver RCMP seek skier whose pole caused brain injury to B.C. teen

VANCOUVER — A North Vancouver family is joining with RCMP to urge… Continue reading

Canadian ‘Aladdin’ star eyes diverse career championing homegrown talent

TORONTO — Canadian “Aladdin” star Mena Massoud says his wild carpet ride… Continue reading

Supreme Court will tuck into UberEats case about drivers’ benefit rights

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada will help decide whether a… Continue reading

Speech from the throne: Read the entire text outlining UCP priorities

The following is the speech from the throne, read Wednesday in the… Continue reading

Canada’s Rebecca Marino drops second-round French Open qualifying match

PARIS — Canada’s Rebecca Marino fell just short in a second-round qualifying… Continue reading

Acclaimed writer Casey Plett wins $60K First Novel Award for ‘Little Fish’

TORONTO — Casey Plett has won the Amazon Canada First Novel Award… Continue reading

Nik Wallenda and sister plan highwire walk over Times Square

NEW YORK — For his next trick, daredevil Nik Wallenda plans to… Continue reading

Most Read