Games & Sport

In a golden age of SXSW brand activations, at least Game of Thrones draws blood

AUSTIN, Texas—The hottest ticket at South by Southwest 2019 may not involve a band or a film. Instead… it’s for blood donations.

Fresh off its much hyped SXSW 2018 Westworld experience, HBO partnered up with the American Red Cross this year for “Bleed For The Throne,” a blood drive held within yet another signature “immersive activation” at the festival. While people anywhere can participate in the overall Red Cross initiative, donors in Austin this week get the perk of walking through recreations of Game of Throne‘s King’s Landing Throne Room and an exterior camp site where everyday people from Westeros await to perform and interact. According to the event press release, 80-plus actors and musicians have been hired to bring it all to life, and they’re working from 100-plus pages of character script and backstory. A royal woman told us we had to listen to light inside us; a female soldier at the camp commented on the excellent mobility of our “armor”—aka, a bike helmet attached to a backpack.

If you’re attending SXSW and haven’t reserved a spot yet, don’t bother. After a Thursday media preview, HBO PR sent out an update noting all available appointments for the weekend had been reserved within two hours of opening. On the plus side, the GoT tie-in has led to a reported 40 percent increase in new donor appointments since the campaign announcement.

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