Marketing

The Maester’s Path around the web

As I mentioned, I wasn’t the only one to receive the first link in the chain of The Maester’s Path, HBO’s marketing initiative for Game of Thrones. Many other bloggers and critics received the box of scrolls and vials. I’ve compiled some of their reactions below. Be sure to visit each link for more photos and, in some cases, videos:

Today I was lucky to receive the “first link in the chain” and it’s incredible.
Tower of the Hand

It’s practically unmitigated awesomeness, and Linda and I feel honored and excited that we’re part of the experience, and can share it with fellow fans!
Westeros

Incredible – this was a total surprise! It’s a perfumer’s kit that takes you into the world, with maps and lore. I’m hooked, and this is just the beginning.
Violet Blue

I grabbed my vidcam and documented what quickly became not only an awesome “unboxing” video, but an amazing — and remarkably unconventional — narrative journey.
J.C. Hutchins

More reactions and photos:
Jace Lacob – Televisionary and The Daily Beast
Adam Serwer – The American Prospect
Jason Denzel – Dragonmount
Kiran Aditham – MediaBistro
Meredith Woerner – io9
CC Chapman – Digital Dads
Matt Fowler – IGN TV
Kristen Nedopak – ThinkHero
Seth Green – Comedian, Writer, Actor
Myles McNutt – Cultural Learnings

There are others who have received it as well, but have yet to give any impressions. We’ll update this post with impressions and unboxings from around the web as they come in.

Oh, I also found this website — TheMaestersPath.com — which was set up by HBO, and it looks like it will tie into the campaign at some point. When it will go live and what content it will contain is anyone’s guess…

UPDATE: Making Game of Thrones has a new post about the unboxing experience with quotes from Elio of Westeros and myself.

The fact that they chose to run the quotes where both Elio and I question if there is more to this box than meets the eye makes me think there is more to this box than meets the eye. I’ve been searching for more clues, invisible ink, a hidden compartment, something, anything… but so far I’ve come up empty. We may have to wait for the next link in the chain for more mysteries to be revealed.

55 Comments

  • What a fantastic idea! I wonder if maybe as the series gets going they could offer these to the general public in some way? Raffle prizes maybe?

  • So now we know some of the people to stalk to get hold of one of these boxes…

    (erratum: by ‘stalk’ I of course mean ‘rob’, and by ‘one’ I mean ‘all’ ;-) )

  • I wonder how many of these were sent out?

    Looking at the different combination of scents people have got I wonder if it was just coincidence that WiC got Winterfell as one of his or was it done on purpose.

    Interesting that with the inclusion of Jason Denzel in the promotion they are angling to get Wheel of Time fans on board.

  • My sister was really excited when they did that Fringe outdoor screening and left clues for ppl to solve and get prizes… But this is waaaaaaaay better! And thank you guys for posting it online, I am living it through you :)

  • That looks so utterly amazing! I’m envious that you received it, and yet also proud that I’m a lurker (mostly) on a site that was part of the marketing campaign. : ) You guys do such a great job here, you definitely deserve some goodies.

  • I love when shows do this … it’s quite awesome.

    I remember that Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles did something like this when it first started it’s media blitz.

    The whole flash drives and media content was really awesome (As was the show).

    But what HBO has done is just to another freakin level and love that about them!

    LOL!

  • I think it’s very cool, that HBO sent them to the heads of the fansites. They deserve it more than lameass television critics, that didn’t know what Game of Thrones was last year or so.

  • Mormegil, yeah, they contacted me to share a little more of my unboxing experience. Interesting that they decided to run the quote where I wonder if there is more to this box than just the scent journey. Same with Elio. Makes me think something is up, but so far I haven’t found anything unusual about the box.

  • Supercool!

    The Dark Knight also had a great viral marketing plan (web-based Joker mysteries/backstory) that lead to some great promo material (cards/posters/Joker masks, etc) or important reveals (1st shot of Heath as Joker, 1st poster, teaser, trailer) to whomever solved the puzzles first. Hopefully “The Maester’s Path” will emulate the idea.

  • Winter Is Coming:
    Mormegil, yeah, they contacted me to share a little more of my unboxing experience. Interesting that they decided to run the quote where I wonder if there is more to this box than just the scent journey. Same with Elio. Makes me think something is up, but so far I haven’t found anything unusual about the box.

    We need an MRI of that box, posthaste!

  • (…duplicate of my post from the previous thread….)

    Winter–After reading the post on the MakingOfGOT site, I started wondering what the hidden clue could be (if anything). So after examining your snapshots more closely, I noticed that certain letters in the “Scent” scrolls were highlighted at the beginning of some sentences but not others. Could this be a clue? So far from Winterfell we have

    NDAA (and W if you count the first word, Winterfell.)

    From Dothraki Sea we have:

    HT (and A if you count the first word)

    I may be grasping at straws here (or a Red Herring), but as we all know this group enjoys a good puzzle. Therefore I suggest that you post pics of all the documents included and we should try to acquire pics from the other location scrolls. Maybe we can find a hidden clue (if there is one)

  • I for one am glad to read the positive reactions! Of course I continue to be jealous of all these people, but by the looks of it they all seem to be more than pleased, they are quite taken by the effort!

    Now, if only HBO would put the same thought and effort in hiring a real composer and firing Djawadi (or whatever the hell his name is)! All would be well with the world again!

  • Starz showed the first episode of Camelot tonight as a sneak preview, anyone else catch it?

    It was pretty good, better than I thought it would be for sure. Definitely a different beast than GoT and I am sure there will be some people who would prefer it over GoT. That said, I don’t think it will be able to hold a candle to GoT when all is said and done.

  • the goat,
    “We need an MRI of that box, posthaste!”

    Not unless you’ve got a few million in your back pocket to replace the machine when your metal-bound boxlodges itself deep within the machine’s internals.
    Remember – M stands for Magnetic.

    Hi-res CT scan is what we need!

  • What about hidden messages. That was a lot of parchement, maybe some one has some invisible ink message or something.
    LOL…really nothing to do right now!

  • oh wow… this is so amazing. don’t know if what I say here makes any sense now but I kinda feel flattered (sorry.. not a native english speaker, so I am missing the words) because HBO puts so much effort and love into this show. It feels good that fantasy as a genre is taken seriously. and the way HBO promotes the show with this box, tells me that they got what GoT is all about. can’t wait for more to come.

  • zep243, this is as good a guess as any. So I went through and checked all the scrolls and discovered there are different levels of highlighting. The weakest highlighting seems to be the most random, the middle only comes at the beginning of a sentence after one of the hypens, and then the strongest is the large letter at the beginning of each scroll. Not sure what it all means, if anything, but I compiled them all here anyway:

    Weak – Normal
    Middle – Italic
    Strong – Bold

    Pentos – T | S
    Crossroads Inn – F | T
    King’s Landing – R | T | T
    Winterfell – NDA | A | W
    Dothraki Sea – H | T | A

    Weak – RNDAH
    Middle – TFTAT
    Strong – STTWA

    Any guesses?

  • Winter Is Coming,

    I absolutely love the idea of this expanding into a global ARG promo campaign. I have been part of solving puzzles in Bungies Halo ARG and Valves Portal ARG and also followed many others and I have to say that they have always been exeptionally awesome. Fingers crossed.

  • re: Camelot

    Just watched it. Looked a bit on the cheap side (what’s up with stone fences every time they ride around?) and the story was too straightforward for my liking. Also, the Flashforward guy as Merlin was a really bad mis-cast (I still haven’t decided on the others, but Eva Green seems to be good). That said, I will probably check out the second episode to see where it’s going (they seem to diverge from the original myth enough to make it at least somewhat interesting). But it does seem that they don’t actually have a contender against GoT (as if I was expecting that).

  • Winter Is Coming,

    Different levels of highlighting would seem to hint at some hidden message(s) indeed, but no idea at what… The letters as they are can’t be directly related toASoIaF (at least not with my feeble knowledge of Westeros), so maybe we need to combine the letters of the different places with those symbols on the respective bottles? The parallel between mixing scents or letters to find the smell or hidden message of a given place would add a really nice touch to this marketing campaign!

  • I was trying to see whether there are more webpages on the maester’s path site which are not hyperlinked. I tried names like penots.html, winterfell.html, kingslanding.html and some of the scents (leather.html etc.).
    so far I only managed to get one hit… winteriscoming.html.. unfortunately that is the same page as the frontpage. so looks like a dead end to me. maybe some of you can come up with something I haven’t thought of myself.

  • Good work, Winter. I’m not seeing any patterns yet. There are too few vowels to suggest an anagram but there could be some other puzzle key.

    I wish we could post this on Tanga.com. Those people are scary good at puzzles and codebreaking. :)

  • i like the idea of hidden messages, but i’m thinking that maybe each of these boxes is supposed to be a “link” in the chain. other than the the scents provided, are there any differences between the boxes sent to each recipient? what about the boxes themselves?

  • Okay, I am probably in the minority but I am getting really annoyed at HBO and tired of hearing about the “Maester’s Path” boxes. I know HBO sent them out to reviewers and critics, to get buzz and enthusiasm going amongst the reviewers, who would theoretically then transfer that enthusiasm to the fans, but instead I feel like it’s made a gulf widen between me and the ‘elite’ reviewers. There’s no way I can get a box if I wanted one at this point, and the main attraction of the box, the scents, is the one thing that CAN’T be shared with the regular potential viewer over email, message boards, twitter, etc. They can tell me what the scents smell like, but it’s not the same. I thought social media and viral marketing was supposed to bring the fans closer with the production, the artists, the stars, and the ultimate product. Instead I feel sort of left out and stratified. And yes, of course its petty jealousy! But it’s just how it made me feel, and I wanted to share that.

  • Ax0r:
    the goat,
    “We need an MRI of that box, posthaste!”

    Not unless you’ve got a few million in your back pocket to replace the machine when your metal-bound boxlodges itself deep within the machine’s internals.
    Remember – M stands for Magnetic.

    Hi-res CT scan is what we need!

    Dammit Jim, I’m a doctor! Not a box…figuring out…type guy.

    What if we reverse the polarity of the dilithium crystals? That always seemed to work before.

    Winter Is Coming:
    zep243, this is as good a guess as any. So I went through and checked all the scrolls and discovered there are different levels of highlighting. The weakest highlighting seems to be the most random, the middle only comes at the beginning of a sentence after one of the hypens, and then the strongest is the large letter at the beginning of each scroll. Not sure what it all means, if anything, but I compiled them all here anyway:

    Weak – Normal
    Middle – Italic
    Strong – Bold

    Pentos – T | S
    Crossroads Inn – F | T
    King’s Landing – R | T | T
    Winterfell – NDA | A | W
    Dothraki Sea – H | T | A

    Weak – RNDAH
    Middle – TFTAT
    Strong – STTWA

    Any guesses?

    Is there an R+L=J hidden anywhere in there?

  • purplejilly,

    Yeah, I kinda agree with you. Also, it seems odd to me that HBO instead of widening their marketing campaign to the general public, they are seemingly narrowing it down to a few critics/bloggers and us hardcore fans… Truly, if one wasn’t into the story already, how would some boxes of scents that some blogger got attract you to the series??

    I sound a bit negative now and want to stress (to HBO if they read along) that this idea with the boxes was really cool, but it won’t attract newcomers to the series…

  • purplejilly,

    Annoyed? Consider yourself lucky to be living in the internet age, otherwise you wouldn’t even know about these boxes at all. They’re for the critics, not us, but the things like the internet have totally changed this type of experience into something that can be shared with the fans. Complaining about this comes across as incredibly spoiled/entitled in my opinion.

  • Lex: purplejilly, Annoyed? Consider yourself lucky to be living in the internet age, otherwise you wouldn’t even know about these boxes at all. They’re for the critics, not us, but the things like the internet have totally changed this type of experience into something that can be shared with the fans. Complaining about this comes across as incredibly spoiled/entitled in my opinion.

    I will proudly claim the incredibly spoiled/entitled label! My poor husband would agree with you 100% (lol) Let me just re-emphasize that I am NOT upset with WIC or any of the box recipients, my whine was not directed at them in any way, and I enjoy reading their blogs and reviews, I am mad at HBO Marketing.

  • Tar Kidho,

    I think it’s okay to be a bit negative. HBO marketing should be thinking of a way to involve/include the normal fans too, instead they’ve isolated us. In fact they missed out on an opportunity, since i’m a fan excited about the show, I probably would have happily ordered one of these boxes for fun if they had priced it around the $20-$40 range. Especially if, as people are now speculating, there is some crypto stuff involved in the box. And if there isn’t, then I think HBO blew a second opportunity..

  • purplejilly,

    This is pretty much a very creative and impressive press release, not something directed at the fans. It’s intended to intrigue and familiarize as many critics, bloggers, publications, etc as they can. Through them, HBO will be able to reach many more fans and in a much more effective way then they ever could dream of on their own. It sucks to not be a part of it, but it’s really awesome how above and beyond they went because it will really help the show to gain a strong voice. (As long as it doesn’t suck…) You can bet that anyone who received that box was impressed and intrigued and will probably pay a close eye to the show when it airs.

    There will definitely be marketing directed towards us fans and I’m sure it is right around the corner. They may even do something really creative and interactive with the fans as well, who knows what they have up their sleeve.

  • I’m so incredibly jealous right now.
    I’m about to go launch my own Game of Thrones website so I can get in on this badassness.
    Give me my maesters chain!!!

  • If no one has thought of this yet, the box, the map, and all of the parchments should be examined underneath a black light.

  • purplejilly:
    Tar Kidho,

    When shall we meet forour secret planning meetings? I’ll bring the rope. You always need a good piece of rope!

    Great! And I, having grown up with McGyver, will bring the duct tape! :-) Now we must also first device a secret script so that WiC doesn’t know what we’re talking about when we plan our Quest of the Boxes.

  • Tar Kidho: Great! And I, having grown up with McGyver, will bring the duct tape! Now we must also first device a secret script so that WiC doesn’t know what we’re talking about when we plan our Quest of the Boxes.

    Okay- first memorize this poem.
    “”And Shepherds we shall be

    For thee, my Lord, for thee.

    Power hath descended forth from Thy hand

    Our feet may swiftly carry out Thy commands.

    So we shall flow a river forth to Thee

    And teeming with souls shall it ever be.

    In Nomeni Patri Et Fili Spiritus Sancti.”

  • Tar Kidho,

    The rope comment and the poem were a joke referencing the movie the Boondock Saints, but I fear you have not seen it, If you ever watch it one day, now you will know the rope joke, and the poem. :)