Starbucks Got $2.3 Billion In Free Advertising From Game Of Thrones And It Wasn’t Even Their Cup

by : Charlie Cocksedge on : 01 May 2019 20:18
starbucks got free advertising from game of thrones even though it wasn't their cupWikimedia/HBO

As you’re probably aware, the breakout star of the current series of Game of Thrones is a coffee cup.

Not because some hunky barista with a great beard has appeared and is a dab hand at making the silkiest flat whites in all of Westeros. But because it was what appeared to be a present-day Starbucks cup in a scene.


HBO responded to the unintentional gaff, saying the drink was indeed a mistake, as Daenerys had ordered a herbal tea, not a latte.


However, the studio also confirmed they would be digitally editing out the offending cup from further airings of the episode.

While the cup may be gone, Starbucks’ ad revenue is well and truly here, as it’s been suggested the coffee giant earned an estimated $2.3billion in free advertising from the episode – despite it not even being a Starbucks cup.


Stacy Jones, CEO of marketing company Hollywood Branded, used PR subscription service Critical Mention to estimate the amount of advertising Starbucks would have gained. It tallied around 10,627 mentions of ‘Starbucks’ and ‘Game of Thrones’ online, in radio and around the world, CNBC reports.

Stacy said:

This is a once-in-a-lifetime collision of opportunity for Starbucks. 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.


Talkwater, a social media analytics and monitoring site, reportedly counted over 193,000 mentions of ‘Starbucks’ and ‘Game of Thrones’ together within 48 hours of the show.

Meanwhile, Sophie Turner – who plays Sansa Stark – tried to pass off the blunder onto her co-star.

Check it out:



Dan Hill, CEO of Hill Impact, a strategic communications firm, said:

It’s impossible to put a real figure on how much free advertising Starbucks gets out of the situation, but it’s in a totally different category than product placement because it was accidental, which makes it more valuable.

I know people assign a value to these things, ‘more than $1 million in public relations,’ but I think it’s all hogwash — too hard to quantify. Plus this one will live on as a meme, so I guess you could say it’s a gift that will keep on giving.

And if there’s one thing we love more than coffee, it’s memes.


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Charlie Cocksedge

Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist and sub-editor at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.

Topics: Film and TV, Advertising, Game of Thrones, HBO, Starbucks


  1. CNBC

    Starbucks got an estimated $2.3 billion in free advertising from ‘Game of Thrones’ gaffe, and it wasn’t even its coffee cup