HBO turns to rap to promote 'Game of Thrones'

Season Four of "Games of Thrones" starts soon, and HBO has enlisted rappers to help promote the dark fantasy series. The musicians have made a mixtape that is best  described as a rap homage to the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. 

HBO hopes the mixtape will bring in more black and Latino viewers. At first glance, it may be hard to see how hip-hop -- young, urban and cool -- gibes with a medieval fantasy.  But the rapper Common says it makes plenty of sense. "'Game of Thrones' centers around battles of power, and rap is definitely a battle of power," Common says in a promotional video.

Common’s analysis resonates with Renee Gosline, who teaches marketing at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and happens to be a hip hop fan.

Gosline says HBO isn’t the first company that’s tried to use rap stars to create buzz. A couple of years ago, Heineken launched Red Star Access, sponsoring concerts by up and coming musicians with the idea building a younger more diverse customer base.

"I think in the case of Red Star, people enjoyed the good music but it didn’t necessarily convert into actually purchasing Heiniken," Goseline says. She says that’s because the music didn’t speak to the Heineken brand:

About the author

Queena Kim covers technology for Marketplace. She lives in the Bay Area.

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