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Maester’s Path Experience from HBO

A couple of months back, Linda and I were asked to get in touch with HBO’s marketing team on something cool they were working on, which was our first hint that… well, something cool was up that wasn’t just Game of Thrones. It was all very mysterious, but two months later, here we are, the honored recipients of “the first link in the Maester’s Path”. In the jargon of the marketing industry, this is apparently called an interactive multi.part marketing initiative, but we just call it awesome. Although a snafu on our end led to a day’s delay in receiving the package, we came to it quite fresh. See below for video and images as we discuss the package, as well as links to other reactions from across the web (and from some unexpected quarters).

(Note: First time I’ve ever used our camera for extensive recording, and there are ... some problems with the audio on occasion; I think I may have accidentally muffled the microphone and it starts sounding strange from time to time. Apologies!)

The video shows our un-packaging the box, oohing and ahhing over the map and the scrolls, and smelling some of the scents. It was an extraordinary experience to be part of this “sense journey”, and what makes it all the more exciting is that this is just the beginning—more parts of the promotion are coming in the next few weeks leading up to the premiere on April 17th. Will they all ultimately lead to The Maester’s Path, a website that’s presently set-up by HBO but unaccessible? Are there clues hidden in the messages that reveal the login and password to the site? I’m serious when I say Linda and I did examine the box quite closely to make sure there were no hidden compartments…

As I mention in the video, there seem to be five locations that recipients have been journeying to: the Inn at the Crossroads, Winterfell, King’s Landing, Pentos, and the Dothraki Sea. Each has three scents that help encapsulate it, and these can be mixed together to create a blend that embodies the place. All in all, it’s quite a cool idea. We have no idea where the scents were mixed, but whoever did it is quite good—the Incense and Spice Market for Pentos, and the Crypt and Peppercorn for Winterfell, were especially amazing! But don’t take our word for it; among those who recieved the package was J.C. Hutchins, an author with extensive transmedia experience, who shared two long videos presenting the package and his particular scent journeys; the second one covers his trying out the scents (though we have to say, the godswood smelled very much like cedar and pine to us, rather than sweaty socks—perhaps sweaty socks after being dipped in Lysol…)

This is largely the work of Campfire, a transmedia marketing agency based in New York City, co-founded by Mike Monello, on of the co-producers for The Blair Witch Project. I don’t really know what else they’ve done in this vein, but for Linda and I, this was simply a perfect way to give the already-substantial buzz a jump start. The response, we’re told, has been “AMAZING”. And after looking at it, we can see why…

We have tried to round up a list of everyone who’s stated that they received the package, and links to their responses. I know for a fact that it’s not exhaustive—according to Steve Coulson, a member of Campfire, HBO whittled a list of 200 possibile recipients to about 80. If you know of anyone not on this list who has reported receiving one, please feel free to add a pointer in comments:

And of course, our colleagues in GoT-fandom:

We’ll soon have up a few scans of the scrolls in our gallery for the sake of completeness, but you can pretty much find photos covering most of the details at the above-linked sites.

Any critiques? Well, the colors are weird for the arms, but this may be an ink thing, and Storm’s End ought to have been on the coast… but who are we kidding? It’s practically unmitigated awesomeness, and Linda and I feel honored and excited that we’re part of the experience, and can share it with fellow fans!

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