The hype for HBO's Game of Thrones reached proportions as epic as the series itself this week with the latest release of the final season's official trailer, but it's a Snapchat promotion that will truly make fans at SXSW bend the knee.
Using what Snapchat calls AR Marker Tech Lenses, HBO has installed a multi-room immersive experience at the festival called "Bleed for the Throne." While interacting with the experience, attendees find four AR experiences that are unlocked by images dispersed throughout the space.
In one experience, fire and ice envelope a map of Westeros, while another experience ignites a "Hand of the King" replica pin with flames. On banners throughout the experience, blood-red thrones emerge from behind portraits of the show's characters, while in a tent devoted to Daenerys, the shadow of the Mother of Dragons appears alongside silhouettes of her Unsullied army.
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The activation is part of the larger "Bleed the Throne" campaign, which serves not only to promote the new season, but also to assist the American Red Cross in soliciting blood donations.
For HBO, it's a return to familiar territory, as the premium cable network ran a Snapchat campaign to promote the second season of the sci-fi series Westworld.
But the Game of Thrones experience won't be the only AR experience at SXSW built on the AR Mark Tech Lens. At its Garden of Earthly Delights activation, Amazon will install two murals that bring characters from its new series, Good Omens, to life with Snapchat's image recognition capabilities. Also, HBO parent company Warner Bros. has wrapped pedicabs and hung flyers with art from its Detective Pikachu movie that unlock AR experiences in Snapchat.
Available to brands through Lens Studio, Snap will build AR Marker Tech Lens for free for larger customers who qualify, according to a company spokesperson. Whereas other Lenses are sufficient for catching customers wherever they are, the image recognition technology is ideal for on-site experiences for retailers, special events, outdoor advertisers, and other marketing tactics in the real world.
In recent months, the AR Marker Tech Lens has caught the eyes of consumers in previous installations. In February, an in-store promotion for Nike featuring Lebron James drew the attention of basketball and sneaker fans (not to mention the NBA legend himself), and in January Snap used the technology for a billboard promotion in service of its Snap Original series starring Bhad Bhabie.
So while Game of Thrones is coming to an end (spinoffs notwithstanding), it's only the beginning for Snapchat's latest AR magic trick.