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Game of Thrones boosts Irish Tourism

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Game of Thrones has arguably become the pop culture touchstone of the last few years. Indeed, it's probably easier to list your friends and family members that don't watch the hit HBO show, than those that do. Such is a monumental success of the epic fantasy saga in fact, that Tourism Ireland, the tourism board for Northern Ireland and Belfast, has leveraged the show's popularity in a unique campaign by Publicis London, which hopes to draw GoT fans to the real-world locations where key scenes from the series continue to be filmed. Replica props of those used in the show such as dragon eggs and three-eyed ravens, have been popping up in surprise locations around Belfast and Northern Ireland over the past few weeks as part of the campaign, which has been created in partnership with the show's producers at HBO.

Tourism Ireland has leveraged the global popularity of Game of Thrones in a unique campaign by Publicis London

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Examples of these guerrilla marketing events include the placement of replica dragon eggs amongst fruit and vegetables at a market stall in St George's Market in Belfast and three-eyes ravens placed above makeshift signs pointing the way to some of the iconic locations around Northern Ireland where the series is filmed. The tourism board even dropped swords, daggers and maces into the sharp objects bin at Belfast City Airport in a sly wink to the show's violent nature. The eggs in particular proved incredibly popular with the market's visitors, and whilst they were not technically for sale (unless you happened to have 125 Gold Dragons knocking about) they certainly caused a stir, as one of the eggs was remote controlled. Obviously this resulted in quite a few comedic reactions, the best of which will be promoted by the tourist board as “Real news” items, in an effort to entice Game of Thrones fans around the world to visit the country.

This is the second time a campaign based around the show has been used by Tourism Ireland, with a similar campaign having run last year

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This is the second time a campaign based around the show has been used by Tourism Ireland, with a similar campaign having run last year. It drew one million clicks and reached as many as 100 million fans worldwide, and this year's campaign looks to be an even greater success. It will run for 14 weeks, and coincides with the fifth season of the show, which is currently airing on Sky Atlantic in the UK. The campaign will be rolled out Facebook and Twitter in Great Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Scandinavia. It aims to once again leverage the show's strong associations with Northern Ireland, which is known to fans as the physical home of famous series locations such as Winterfell, Riverrun and The King's Road. As well as extensive social media advertising, Tourism Ireland will also target its own active fan base by posting and tweeting to its almost 3 million Facebook fans and 226,000 followers on Twitter globally. The ads will direct fans to a bespoke section on Tourism Ireland’s international website.

Northern Ireland is known to GoT fans as the physical home of famous series locations such as Winterfell, Riverrun and The King's Road

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Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “We are delighted to continue our partnership with HBO in 2015, to highlight Northern Ireland and its beautiful landscape – through the exciting events of Game of Thrones – on the global stage. We aim to build on the success of last year’s campaign, reaching out to the show’s global fan base and demonstrate the spectacular scenery of Northern Ireland. Game of Thrones fans worldwide will see these ads, spiking their curiosity about the landscapes and locations featured in the series and inspiring them to come and explore them for themselves.”

Replica dragon eggs were placed amongst fruit and vegetables at a Belfast market, and three-eyed ravens were posted above makeshift signposts across Northern Ireland

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A second phase of the campaign is set in the coming weeks. There are at least four more upcoming events on the way, code-named: "Signs of Giants," "Flocking to Belfast," "White Walker Marks," and "A Fiery Spectacle," according to Publicis London, so keep your eyes peeled!

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Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer and struggling musician from Kidderminster in the UK. His favourite Game of Thrones character is Samwell Tarly, because he too is a portly fellow with a kind heart. And he killed a white walker, so he's actually deceptively badass!

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