HBO's smash hit fantasy series, Game of Thrones, will be entering its seventh (and second-to-last) season next summer, after announcements that due to weather, the usual springtime season would be pushed back. The upcoming season will also be shorter than previous years of the show, at only seven episodes instead of 10 — news that disappointed fans who can't get enough of the series.
Season 7 will start to tie together all the various characters' storylines as the houses return to Westeros for a final battle over the Iron Throne. The main contenders left after six seasons of bloodshed and intrigue are Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), currently ruling, Jon Snow (Kit Harrington), Littlefinger (Aidan Gillan), and of course, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke). Although we are still nearly a year away from the start of this battle royale, HBO released a new series of short videos promoting season 7, with a timely political twist ahead of the U.S. Presidential election.
The HBO YouTube channel posted four new videos in the style of political campaign "attack ads" (designed to smear the candidate's opponents, rather than promote the candidate themselves). These come as part of the #GOT2016 campaign — a fun and relevant way to promote the show and get fans involved. The campaign website showcases four potential rulers of Westeros (Cersei, Littlefinger, Jon Snow, and Daenerys) with a running poll where fans can choose which leader they support. On Sept 1st, the "official" GoT Party Leader and running mate will be announced. The site showcases the candidates' platforms with text and videos, including earlier pro-candidate videos posted. These attack ads are the final ones to be released before the winner is announced.
Each of the new videos relates to the story of the candidate being promoted, and includes clips from the show alongside phrases that attack their opponents. For Cersei, the video is titled 'Confessions', a nod to her time in the care of the Faith when she was tortured into confession. Her video labels Littlefinger a murderer, Jon Snow a bastard, and Daenerys an outsider. Littlefinger's, titled 'Mockingbird', takes a stab at more than just his direct opponents — a long-reaching attack typical of the character. Daenerys takes a different approach, lumping all other opponents together as "spokes on a wheel," and claims that she will take them all down. Jon Snow, honorable man that he is, doesn't actually get an attack ad. Instead, we see an 'Election Watch' video that shows cosplayers pledging their loyalty to him.
The campaign is inspired by the US Presidential election, and although we can't actually have one of these characters in the running, many fans wish that it was a real possibility! However impossible it may be, it's a fun way to keep the Game of Thrones excitement alive over the winter. It also reminds us that with the show coming to an end soon, things are going to come to a head in the next two seasons — and one ruler is presumably going to come out on top. Presenting them as electoral candidates is a fresh way to stay topical, and to remind fans of where season 6 left us in a show that is often difficult to keep up with.
With only one more day to vote, it looks as though fan-favorite Jon Snow will be the official candidate, too. At the time of writing, over 1 million votes have been cast, and 35 percent of those are for Jon Snow. Daenerys and Littlefinger are close behind, however, with 32 percent each. Unsurprisingly, the devious Cersei is trailing with only 2 percent of the vote.
Of course, this is all just for fun and to help HBO promote the series (not that they need it). With the site heavily promoting the sale of previous seasons, merchandise, and even exclusive footage, some more cynical fans might also call this a money grab as much as an ad campaign. Still, these enjoyable videos help bridge the extra long gap between seasons, and are sure to be followed up with more quirky videos between now and summer 2017.
Game of Thrones will return for its seventh season in the summer of 2017 on HBO.