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Could Game of Thrones’ dark cinematography style boost TV sales?

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We’ve been warned time and time again that the night is dark and full of terrors, but I don’t think we realised just how dark things were going to get…

Episode 3 of season 8 of Game of Thrones aired this weekend, and it was quite the spectacle. Without writing a bunch of spoilers, let’s just say it was 82 minutes of genius writing and acting. I laughed, I cried, I cheered, and I squinted… I squinted a lot.

Set at night-time, and in amongst an abundance of fog, there was no doubt that it was going to be dark and mysterious. But along with the 70,000 other fans who complained on Twitter, I was unable to see a damn thing during certain scenes.

I found myself pausing the show and desperately fiddling about with image settings on my TV. I checked my internet connection, I turned all the lights off, I closed the blinds, but it didn’t matter what I did, there seemed to be some problem with the cinematography.

Or was there?

“No, it wasn’t a technical hitch, it was intentional, as the showrunners and director wanted the episode to be dark and forgot to tell viewers that it should be watched in a dark environment,” Dan Todaro, MD of Gekko Field Marketing told PCR.

Sure enough Fabian Wagner, the show’s cinematographer, insisted that his filming wasn’t to blame for the issues and HBO’s compression of the episode was to the problem. However, despite all the back and fourth finger pointing, it’s not really any one group’s fault.

“The GoT cinematographer is claiming that the pixelation and muddy dark colours that fans encountered on their TVs and mobile devices were due to HBO’s compression of the episode, made worse if being viewed on a streaming service with a weak connection,” said Todaro.

“However, is this more a case of technology overtaking consumer demand? Not everyone has the technology to view in UHD either on a device or TV yet flagship ‘big budget’ productions are using today’s technology. Compound this with a splash of creative licence and run the risk of upsetting die-hard fans, as happened with this episode.”

This is the same conclusion that I came to. My TV is almost 7 years old. Is it technically MY fault that I don’t have the right technology in my home to enjoy such advanced cinematography? And if so, how many other people are having their entertainment ruined by simply continuing to use their current devices?

“Interestingly, over half of British consumers buying a new TV are doing so because they are replacing an existing, working set (44%) or buying an additional set (16%),” pointed out Todaro. “The HDR feature is particularly important to those upgrading or buying an additional product indicating that not everyone has the capability to enjoy content as intended by producers.”

If that’s the case, Game of Thrones’ dark cinematography style could possibly contribute to a boost in TV sales – something retailers should be taking advantage of.

“When purchasing a new TV, bricks and mortar stores are still a dominant influence in the final decision making process. Analysts expect to see more 65 – 80 inch models and the first 8k sets from several brands become standard ranging in 2019,” explained Todaro.

“Was this episode a rare example of content overtaking technology and consumer demand? Maybe, but for those savvy brands and retailers, it’s an opportunity.”

To read the full article please visit PCR.

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How the Christmas ads fared on social

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For this year’s Christmas ads we’ve had the lot. Almost every major retailer has now released their ads, laying out their stall for what they can offer consumers this Christmas.

These have been closely followed by an onslaught of social media reviews, some good, some not so good.

Firstly, let’s take a look at Sainsbury’s which has become possibly the most debated Christmas advert of all time. Some love it, some loath it.

Twitter is ablaze with #sainsburyschristmas conversation. Some love it for its cinematography and poignant message for the 100th anniversary of First World War, appreciating that the retailer is donating to the Royal British Legion.

While others are angry with Sainsbury’s depiction of the war, feeling that they are glamorising it and using the conflict to advertise their products.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the advert has already had a lot of complaints to the Advertising Standards Agency (more than 700 at the moment), most mentioning the distasteful portrayal of the First World War.

Yet love it or hate it, you’re not likely to forget Sainsbury’s contribution any time soon.

We move on to Iceland, which is possibly the worst Christmas advert I’ve ever seen. It is almost indistinguishable from its normal advert except it mentions some Christmassy food.

As far as social media goes, Iceland’s twitter post for the advert was retweeted an unremarkable three times (the account has more than 16k followers). Likewise, the advert’s uninspiring hashtag #icelandchristmasad has only been used by Iceland themselves. It also only has just over 400 likes on Facebook, compared to the Sainsbury’s advert’s 126,000 likes. Yes, the advert is that forgettable.

On the other end of the spectrum Boots‘ Christmas advert does emotional advertising right. Rather than relying on an animated penguin for emotional support, the advert concentrates on the importance of family, something we should all focus on at this time of year.

Social media users love it too, with many feeling moved and especially enjoying the connection to the NHS:

Boots’ simple #specialbecause hashtag is perfect for sentimentality during the Christmas period. It’s not an especially flashy advert, and is therefore somewhat underrated, but it has resonated with a lot of people, and that’s what makes it so great.

Then there is Tesco’s ad. Although it is well-produced with the right message, this year’s offering leaves me a little disappointed. The advert’s light show is fantastic, undoubtedly the best light show since the Olympics. But, in comparison to John Lewis and Sainsbury’s, this is a little mundane.

The Twittersphere seems equally unimpressed, with many finding the ad uninspiring and even unnecessarily expensive:

Although Tesco’s Facebook is very popular, and the ad has tens of thousands of likes, even the comments section of the ad post is filled more with customer complaints than it is of genuine praise.

Even more unfortunately for Tesco, its hashtag #makechristmas was also used by Irish retail chain Dunne Stores. As a result, Twitter has an odd mix of both brands.

Now to Aldi, and though I quite like the concept of this advert, I think it’s poorly executed. Showing how Christmas is celebrated in different walks of life could make a great ad, but Aldi’s offering simply pans the camera over a number of different groups eating and drinking. The script is also dire, with lines sounding extremely scripted. Moreover, Jools Holland’s random cameo appearance at the end is extremely odd; why not use him more during the ad? Yet he seems to be the major attraction for many on Twitter and Facebook:

Although an unsophisticated offering, many people seem to love it. Perhaps Aldi’s simple, budget orientated ad is the right message for this year. And whatever you say about it, the Aldi advert probably has the truest slogan of any advert this Christmas – ‘everyone’s coming to us this Christmas’.

The Lidl advert achieves exactly what the retailer wanted to achieve. Continuing its #lidlsuprises campaign, the ad does away with the cinematic offerings of its competitors, and instead focuses on the products. I think the blind taste test was a clever idea, really highlighting how Lidl products aren’t as budget quality as people think. This also seems to have reflected well amongst Lidl’s Twitter followers:

However, it’ll take more than an advert to convince some consumers that Lidl products are on par with their competitors:

While it is a good advert and puts the right message across, I can’t help but think it’s not that Christmassy. Other ads like Sainsbury’s and John Lewis have a distinct Christmassy feel, but Lidl’s is simply a Christmas branded extension of its existing ad. It does the right job, but it doesn’t have appeal of the more cinematic ads at this time of year.

By far the most engaging ad this year has been the Halfords ad – it’s supposed to provoke feelings of nostalgia and it does it really well. The ad could easily be set in any decade from the 1970’s onwards which makes it so appealing to a broad audience. The ad wants you to remember that seminal moment of getting your own bike as a child, and ultimately share this experience with your kids. Those using #nothingbeatsabike on Twitter seems to agree:

This has to be my favourite Christmas ad; it does everything right. You might prefer the cinematic masterpieces of the likes of Sainsbury’s, but for me the simple nostalgia of a new bike is as Christmassy as it gets.

Last but not least we have the now famous John Lewis Monty the Penguin ad. There is little more to be said about the overexposed ad apart from the inevitable parodies which were released over the past few weeks, of which there are surprisingly many.


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