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Starbucks earned billions in free advertising–even though it wasn’t their coffee cup

It looks like the survivors of the Battle of Winterfell were not the only ones celebrating in “The Last of the Starks” episode. Because even Starbucks, the famous American coffee company, also gained an estimated $2.3 billion in free advertising.

In last week’s episode, everyone in Winterfell was seen enjoying a celebratory dinner after defeating the White Walkers. And as the camera pans to an upset Daenerys, GoT viewers spotted an out-of-place, modern-day disposable cup sitting on a table right in front of her.

via HBO

But there’s a major plot twist: The disposable cup that made its way into the “Game of Thrones” scene didn’t even belong to the beverage chain but from a local coffee shop in Banbridge, Northern Ireland, which is proximate to the scene’s location.


Although the label was slightly blurred, fans were quick to assume that it was from the famous coffee shop. In an interview with CNBC, Stacy Jones, CEO of marketing company Hollywood Branded, said that the buzz has translated to billions in free ads. Jones also added that Critical Mention, which is a media monitoring company, tallied 10,627 mentions of Starbucks and “Game of Thrones” on different media platforms like television, radio, and of course, social media.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime collision of opportunity for Starbucks,” Jones 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.”

CNBC also reported that social media analytics and monitoring platform called Talkwalker counted more than 193,000 mentions within 48 hours. The mentions included both Starbucks and “Game of Thrones,” and even a variation of the series’ hashtag, on Twitter, in social forums, blogs, and news sites.

After HBO had confirmed that the notorious coffee cup from last Sunday’s episode was really a mistake, they resolved it by digitally editing it out of the scene.

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