Timing Is Everything - In Battle, Antidotes, and Marketing: 'Game of Thrones,' Week Seven

Memorial Day Weekend brought us hot dogs, hamburgers, and comeuppance for Cersei -- but that’s not all "Game of Thrones" had in store for us this week. Bronn got a cheap thrill and an antidote from the Sand Snakes, Sam got a beating from his Night’s Watch brothers and some TLC from Gilly, and fans got something we’ve been waiting a long time for: Tyrion and Danaerys meeting face to face. 

Timing was a big theme that ran all through episode seven. Stannis has waited seemingly forever to march on Winterfell and continue his quest for the Iron Throne. But as winter has finally made its way to the north, and with some of his sell swords heading for the hills, Ser Davos counseled Stannis that the time isn’t right for an attack. 

That conversation may have been familiar to many marketers watching. Timing is everything in battle, in marketing, and in life. We’ve all been in brainstorms and come up with big ideas that aren’t possible to execute on a given timeline. Some of us have also been on the other side: ready to deploy a real-time asset, only to find that the market itself has changed. Consumers have moved on, or the story has taken an unexpected turn, so your asset — which was relevant just mere hours ago — is now as old as yesterday’s news. 



Ominously, Stannis will not heed The Onion Knight’s council. He’s afraid that if he retreats again, he’ll be known as The Retreater. We’ll see how this plays out, but it’s not looking good for the One True King… 

We also saw impeccable timing affect Tyrion’s story last night. Tyrion has found himself in an awful lot of trouble over the course of the series, and each time, he’s used his quick wit and Lannister gold to get out of a sticky situation. Last night was no exception: he deployed the former — and a little muscle — to get himself sold to the same slave trader as Ser Jorah. But timing is what really came into play in the fighting pits of Meereen. 

Jorah took it upon himself to enter the fray and incapacitate the other combatants as the Khaleesi looked on — but Tyrion was still chained up in the holding cells. Tyrion knew that with Jorah out in the pit, he had to get out there himself in order to stay alive and finally meet the Mother of Dragons. He used elbow grease, a convenient saw, and the help of a friendly guard to break free and make a timely — and dramatic — entrance. 

That moment in the holding cell reminded me of an adaptive marketing effort: a fleeting opportunity, hard work (in Tyrion’s case furious sawing, but in ours the creation of a real-time asset), and a little help from an unlikely source (Tyrion’s guard is like a media partner willing to help distribute an asset despite their normal processes). The result? A dramatic, crowd pleasing debut. 

When timing, creative, distribution, and consumer reactions all come together, it can be an electric moment for everyone involved. But none of it would be possible if the timing weren’t right. 

Tyrion and Danaerys have the potential to be an absolutely lethal combination. Oftentimes, in our world, an awaited pairing doesn’t live up to the hype. We’ll see whether that’s the case in Essos.

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