The end of Game of Thrones is nigh, and as it approaches, brands across industries are scrambling to squeeze every last penny from the mania. Tie-ins with the HBO series are nothing new, but this time around it feels like everyone, from Oreo to Duolingo to John Varvatos, is scrambling to catch even a glimmer of the series’ reflected glory.
We’ve ranked the most desperate attempts at joint-promotion so far, along with our own diagnosis of each brand’s thirst level.
13. Shake Shack
On Friday, Shake Shack launched a nationwide “secret” Game of Thrones menu, which includes a spicy “Dracarys Burger” and a minty-cool “Dragonglass Shake.” While neither sounds particularly appetizing, we do give the recipe developers kudos for creating an edible combination of fire and ice. But the gimmick is made way thirstier by one detail: that to eat the damn thing, you have to place your order in Valyrian. Shack Shacks have offered a translation guide to help patrons with pronunciation, but if you don’t want to hold up the line, you’d better brush up on Daenerys’ mother tongue beforehand.
Thirst score: a little cotton-mouthed.
The team over at Spotify also capitalized on the Season 8 premiere by collaborating with Game of Thrones co-creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss on a playlist called “Game of Thrones: The End Is Coming.” Designed to mimic the emotional experience of watching the show, the playlist is filled with classics from artists like Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan—real-world rock music that, refreshingly, has no overt connection to the Seven Kingdoms. That said, according to Benioff and Weiss, the playlist does conceal a secret message about how the series ends: “The answer to the ending is one hundred percent hidden in the playlist choices,” the pair told Spotify’s blog, For the Record. “No one will believe us, but it’s true.”
Thirst score: The answer is hidden in the paragraph above. No one will believe us, but it’s true.
Since 2017, the language-learning platform Duolingo has offered a course in High Valyrian, which has somehow attracted 1.2 million users according to Duolingo. New content and audio were added to the course in early April, just in time for you to polish up before heading to Shake Shack.
Thirst score: Jikagon iēdar aderī iā kessa morghūljagon!
When Bud Light dropped their Game of Thrones commercial during the Super Bowl, watching Westeros collide with the beermaker’s medieval parody world was somewhat of a fun (if confusing) surprise. In the ad, what starts off as a normal jousting tournament ends with the Bud Knight slain and then set ablaze by Drogon—though a video released this week does depict a Jon Snow–style resurrection for the Knight. What a relief?
Thirst score: Better crack open a cold one.
Because we as a public just can’t get enough Game of Thrones–brewery collaborations, Ommegang has launched a new brew just in time for Season 8: a 9.5% ABV golden ale called For The Throne, which is co-fermented with pinot grigio and then bottle conditioned with Champagne yeast, which actually sounds kind of good. The beer arrives as part of a years-long Ommegang and HBO partnership which has also produced a Mother of Dragons porter and a King in the North stout. We have to admit that pairing alcohol with the series is smart marketing: Game of Thrones basically resurrected viewing-party culture, and beer’s the easiest party gift there is.
Thirst score: Now we’re the ones who are thirsty?
Because nothing promises love like a TV show propelled by incest and carnage, the dating app OKCupid is celebrating Season 8 by helping match daters based on whether or not they’re into Game of Thrones. Starting in March, users who indicated that they did watch the show received a new badge on their profile to convey their fandom to potential matches. It’s almost sad to sound the thirst alarm on this one, given the sense of desperation that often attends dating app use all on its own. But OKCupid did predict 20 percent more likes and 15 percent more conversations for those with the Thrones badge, which seems promising—as long as you avoid any handsome, bearded men that might secretly be your brother.
Thirst score: Dire.
7. MGM Resorts
The Las Vegas strip’s Fountains of Bellagio were transformed into fire and ice last week as part of a collaboration between MGM and HBO. The waterworks show included lights, pyrotechnics, and giant projections to simulate freezing the lake after setting it ablaze. In case that wasn’t enough, dragons also appeared to duck in and out of the waves. Immersive, colossal, costly—sounds nearly as over-the-top as a Game of Thrones set.
Thirst score: What happens in Westeros…
It’s become somewhat standard for Adidas to roll out collaborations with artists. The brand’s Adidas Originals line has released successful collections with stars from Pharrell Williams to Kanye West to the popular visual artist Daniel Arsham. Their new Game of Thrones sneakers, then, don’t come as too much of a surprise. But neither does the knowledge that the custom line’s only variation on regular Adidas is a tiny tag on the heel that reads either “Night’s Watch,” “Fire And Blood,” or “Hear Me Roar.”
Thirst score: Parched.
5. John Varvatos
Westeros’ best styles are unfortunately not on display in John Varvatos’ custom Game of Thrones–inspired capsule collection (posh fur-lined cloaks, where are you?), which instead includes a $1,498 linen jacket and a series of $98 Great House t-shirts. While the menswear jackets are actually kind of chic (OK, maybe not $1,498 chic), the tees are so painfully basic that they could credibly appear in an HBO merchandise catalog retailing at $10 each. Luxury fashion fans, go wild.
Thirst score: Bone-dry.
Joining the edible Thrones tie-ins is a line of limited-edition Oreos. Encased in black packaging, the cookies are each embossed with an emblem: a direwolf for House Stark, a lion for the Lannisters, a multiheaded dragon for House Targaryen, or the face of the Night King. The company also went all-out with a video riff on Game of Thrones’ title sequence, except their version is built entirely out of Oreos. Nearly 3,000 cookies died in its making.
Thirst score: Urgently in need of being dipped in milk.
3. NOW TV
For all those hoping for a way to indelibly mark the end of their favorite series, you’re in luck: The streaming service NOW TV is launching a pop-up tattoo shop in Central London. Opening this week, the studio will ink up true-blue fans for free with any of 16 ready-made designs, including images of a needle and of a tombstone that reads “hold the door.” Finally, a way to swear your eternal allegiance to House Stark without even bending a knee.
Thirst score: Chronic.
2. Urban Decay
The standard Urban Decay eyeshadow palette, which includes basic, everyday-use colors like beige and light brown, is designed for functionality. This makes it all the weirder to see the brand’s extravagant attempt at a Thrones tie-in: a sparkly, themed eyeshadow “vault” with a bulky pop-up Iron Throne in the middle. Though we give Urban Decay points for acknowledging the series’ significant female fan base—whom other brands have been accused of snubbing—the palette retails for $250, which begs the question: Who in their right mind is buying this thing?
Thirst score: Gasping.
1. Mountain Dew
Mountain Dew cashed in on the Season 8 hype by borrowing a trick from Coors: the ol’ cold-activated can. When warm, the new Game of Thrones–themed Mountain Dew can will appear uniformly white. But when chilled, names from Arya Stark’s kill list appear, with several of them already crossed out. The sodas won’t be available in any grocery stores; instead, fans can enter to win one by posting the hashtag #ACanHasNoName. With so few available and social media use encouraged, this one feels particularly desperate.
Thirst score: X-Treme.
The Game of Thrones TV Club Recaps Season 8
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