Game of Thrones and American Red Cross draw blood at SXSW

To celebrate the upcoming final season of Game of Thrones, HBO and the American Red Cross partnered to ask fans and blood donors to ‘Bleed for the Throne’.

As part of the partnership, there was an immersive blood drive experience at this year’s SXSW in Austin, Texas, where fans donated their blood.

The American Red Cross collected 400 – 500 units of donated blood from the partnership. Blood drives usually collect an average of 30 donations, according to ARC’s communications director April Phillips.

“One of the biggest reasons donation rates are dropping is people don’t realise that the need for blood is as great as it is,” she told The Drum.

Donors at SXSW were greeted by actors in GoT costumes, while the waiting and recovery rooms were branded like a chamber in the Red Keep, King’s Landing.

‘An immersive, interactive blood drive’

After donating, participants could explore the interactive event, which included a special ceremony where a Red Priestess honoured them by name and handed them a Hand of the King pin.

“This is the most immersive, interactive blood drive I have ever been a part of,” Phillips explained. “I think this has really helped us take a look at breaking the norm of what a regular blood drive experience might be and will open us up to more creative ideas in the future.”

Outside of SXSW, Game of Thrones branded blood drives have been taking place at 43 states across the US.

Anyone who gave blood in the US between March 7 and 12 received an exclusive Game of Thrones t-shirt, and those who donate through March 17 will be automatically entered for a chance to win one of five trips to the season 8 world premiere of Thrones.

“There’s not an awareness challenge for Game of Thrones,” said Trevor Guthrie, co-founder of event producer Giant Spoon.

“Instead, HBO asked how we could use the final season as a force for good. We spent three days optimising user flow [through the space] and have been hypercritical about the details of the experience.”

Westworld at SXSW

HBO also commissioned an immersive Westworld experience at the 2018 SXSW, also created by Giant Spoon. SXSWestworld was recognised with a SXSW Interactive Innovation Award this year.

In a blurring of boundaries between fact and fiction, VR and experiential theatre, the installation brought to life the town of Sweetwater, complete with ‘hosts’, horses, gunslingers and hard liquor.

Image: American Red Cross