Spoiler: The Real Game Of Thrones Winner Is Starbucks And Their Millions In Free Publicity

Starbucks/Game of Thrones/Uproxx

By now you’ve likely heard about that Starbucks cup that popped up in a scene in last week’s Game of Thrones. Who put it there? Was it the Lord of Light? Did showrunners Benioff and Weiss place it there as some type of meta-commentary on the fantasy genre and the suspension of disbelief? Nope. Just a good old fashioned mistake. You might be surprised to learn it wasn’t even a Starbucks coffee — just a regular old cup of coffee from the onset craft services. While this misstep is embarrassing for Game of Thrones and HBO, especially after fighting off complaints that their show this season has been poorly lit, one entity has come out victorious in this whole mess — Starbucks.

The coffee chain is reaping all the benefits of premium product placement, without paying for it! According to Business Insider, the value of such product placement would have cost the company a large sum of money.

“If we were looking at this in the grand scheme of things and we were comparing ‘Game of Thrones’ to the other largest-watched content out there… you’re looking at the $250,000 to $1 million range for product placement where that product was positioned with a very central character,” Stacy Jones, CEO of marketing agency Hollywood Branded told Business Insider, adding:

“The publicity value is going into the tens of millions…It doesn’t matter, at all [that the coffee isn’t actually from Starbucks].”


Considering there aren’t any coffee roasters in Game of Thrones (as far as we know — perhaps Hot Pie can make a mean brew), we’re willing to bet product placement like this would cost even more, if not just cause people to stop watching the show entirely.

“Yeah dude, I was into the show when it was about nephews sleeping with their aunts and there were giants and sh*t, but I don’t know, that caramel macchiato really just took me out of it. I mean — Daenerys Targaryen would NOT need a coffee cup sleeve. She’s like, the queen of dragon or whatever, she doesn’t burn!”

Fair point imaginary person that we just made up. Unless you taped it though, this is something you’ll hopefully never deal with again. HBO has since edited the coffee cup out from the scene, and have a running policy of not accepting money from advertisers (since their subscriber base is already paying for an ad-free experience).

But you have to hand it to Starbucks and their hold on people’s minds as the quintessential to-go coffee brand. Folks on Twitter spent all day tweeting about Starbucks, who paid nothing, and weren’t even really involved in a scene in the first place. They reaped the benefits of multimillion-dollar product placement for free. That’s how you win the Iron Throne.

The person who sits on the throne isn’t a person at all, but a large corporation — how very American 21st century. Man, reality is so much darker than Game of Thrones could ever be.