If you’ll recall, a couple of weeks ago, Westeros.org put out the word that a focus group was in the offing related to the A Song of Ice and Fire series, having been selected by Schlessinger Associates—a leading market research company—as the best way to get the word out. What we couldn’t state publicly then, but we can now that it’s done, is that this was specifically commissioned by none other than HBO as part of their marketing research for Game of Thrones.
We’re still getting some reports in, but having now seen a very thorough post at “The Princess and the Warlock” blog, we thought we’d add some more details we’ve had. Among the questions asked of the men’s group was what would make a strong tag phrase for the series. “Winter is Coming” was agreed to be very strong, but a number of other iconic lines were mentioned, such as “The things I do for love,” “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die,” and the Targaryen motto, “Fire and Blood” (other mottos, such as “Hear Me Roar”, were not felt to be particularly useful from a marketing perspective).
The topic of magic also came up in the discussion. Although the reporter did not recall the details of whether it was brought up by the focus group leader or by the group themselves, it was discussed as being an important facet of the setting. It was also noted to be markedly different from magic in other adapted works, such as Harry Potter—more low-key, leaving the setting “more realistic”.
Among the things focus group participants were asked to provide were examples of any paraphenalia they had related to the series, including things like copies of fan fiction. It was noted to us, however, that more than one participant noted that there’s relatively little fan fiction out of respect for George R.R. Martin’s wishes on the matter.
The Princess and the Warlock note a number of interesting details, the most notable of which were that more topics were covered by the women’s group, which led to some questions the men did not get asked. The question as to who the heroes and villains were were noteworthy, but the question about the most romantic character might well leave HBO scratching their head. What are they to make of the fact that the most romantic male character is the dead Prince of Dragonstone, Rhaegar Targaryen? Perhaps this will improve the odds of fans getting a glimpse of Rhaegar, Lyanna, and other noteworthies from Robert’s Rebellion… Certainly, the topic of flashbacks came up.
Many thanks to all the great fans who answered our call and also provided these reports (particularly Brude, whose collage made us learn just what the Defenestration of Prague was), and for naming Westeros and our friends over at Winter is Coming as favorite sites to get all the news there is to have regarding the series and show. Also a hat tip to the Westeros Sorting community on LiveJournal for helping to spread the word and show that LJ had a vibrant fan community as well.