Please note that this post contains spoilers for Game of Thrones S08E04!

Game of Thrones Season 8 might not be doing so well on fulfilling fan expectations, but it sure knows when to get us talking. Like with the whole Arya-stabbing-the-Night-King twist, or even Rhaegal’s untimely death (RIP big guy). However, while the last episode did disappoint, it sure got people talking a lot about, well, the coffee of Westeros. Or rather, the coffee chain of Westeros.

After viewers spotted something that resembled a Starbucks coffee cup in one of the scenes, the Internet was flooded with discussion over whether it really was a Starbucks cup or a trick of the light.

HBO admits Starbucks cup in 'Game of Thrones' episode was a 'mistake'
HBO admits Starbucks cup in ‘Game of Thrones’ episode was a ‘mistake’

There were memes galore, particularly about how maybe it was too dark for anyone to spot the cup in the first place.

There was even some mock-blaming happening, when Liam Cunningham (Ser Davos) suggested that the cup must’ve belonged to Emilia Clarke (Daenerys). It was after all placed right next to her on the table! Emilia, of course, denied this.

Even the brands themselves got involved, with Starbucks responding to queries about the Dragon Queen’s usual coffee order!

HBO did manage to edit the cup out of that scene after this. And yet, for the past few days, Game of Thrones and its fans became unsuspectingly involved in generating oodles of organic publicity for the coffee chain Starbucks! One that earned them roughly $2.3 billion in advertising!

Indeed! According to a CNBC report, Starbucks received an estimated $2.3 billion’s worth of free advertising, before HBO digitally altered the footage. The report also revealed that with the whole conversation around the goof up, Starbucks got some 10,627 mentions online and on TV and radio!

The funniest part though is that the cup wasn’t exactly a Starbucks one! It was a craft services cup! But looks like the stars aligned right for Starbucks to get all the free publicity, and that’s not even counting the amount of word-of-mouth and unmeasured publicity it must’ve have gotten because of the goof up.

Starbucks definitely won on this episode of Game of Thrones! As for who wins the actual Iron Throne, stay tuned! Episode 5 is coming and it is going to be HUGE!

Business Lessons from this incident

The fact that the most expensive show ever made a mistake like this is mind boggling, but what’s really interesting is that the coffee cup isn’t a Starbucks cup.

The fact that everyone automatically assumed that it was a Starbucks cup speaks to the power of the companies brand. Their brand awareness is so strong that we are trained to think that every coffee cup is a Starbucks cup.

This is a powerful lesson to all entrepreneurs. In business psychology is just as, if not more important than math. Always aim to position your brand better than your competitors.

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