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Daenerys’ Double Latte: Brilliant Branding or Honest Mistake?

It’s hard work defeating the Night King. When you’re feeling worn down and exhausted, there’s nothing better than a fresh cup of coffee. At least Dany knew that.

After the fourth episode of Game of Thrones aired on Sunday night, @zane pointed out something more unbelievable than dragons or three-eyed ravens: a Starbucks cup in Winterfell. Around the 17:40 mark, audiences could spot the chain’s iconic Tall cup resting on a table in front of the Queen of Dragons. The misplaced coffee sparked countless memes, mostly about Starbucks baristas getting Daenerys’ full name wrong. HBO commented on the blunder, stating, “The latte that appeared in the episode was a mistake. Daenerys had ordered an herbal tea.”

The mistake was worth “tens of millions” of dollars to Starbucks in free publicity, according to the CEO of marketing agency Hollywood Branded. Starbucks wasted no time in promoting its Dragon Drink

People have questioned whether the coffee cup was a brilliant branding move from Starbucks, a brand that could never promote itself within the context of the show otherwise. However, both brands claim it was an honest mistake. HBO has even already removed the cup from the episode. 

Whether the editors had ruined their eyesight from working on “The Long Night” and missed the latte or Starbucks planned this viral sensation, the out-of-place prop disrupted the usual “Game of Thrones” conversation and offered a place for Starbucks to jump in. We’re moving deeper into a society in which the lines are blurred between branded content and entertainment. It’s also a clear reminder of how quickly companies must respond to current events if they want to stay relevant to the conversation.

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