Never underestimate the power of branding. The infamous Game of Thrones coffee cup gaffe gave Starbucks a lot of free publicity, and I’m talking $2.3 billion in free advertising.
On Sunday, eagle-eyed fans of the acclaimed drama noticed that the cup appeared during a feast at Winterfell Castle, causing the mistake to go viral on social media within hours. Though the cup’s logo was fairly blurry, many GoT fans immediately assumed it was a Starbucks drink.
You might be having a rough Monday, but at least you weren't the person who left a Starbucks cup in Game of Thrones pic.twitter.com/GgP1Knz8uV
— Betches (@betchesluvthis) May 6, 2019
Well, it turned out the cup wasn’t actually from Starbucks after all. HBO states that, ‘The latte that appeared in the episode was a mistake. Daenerys had ordered an herbal tea.’
By the time HBO made the clarification, Starbucks had already received a ton of free press coverage. 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 said. “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.”
Although Starbucks were quick to respond to the gaffe, the coffee cup has since been edited out of the episode.