I watch Game of Thrones.
I’ve re-watched it a few times, and I’ve developed a couple of different understandings of it — through Public Relations and International Relations perspectives; cultural phenomena such as popular TV shows can do more than just depict theoretical scenarios, they are highly complex and can be understood, or ‘read’ in many ways.
Here is my understanding of Game of Thrones, Seasons 1-4, from a Public Relations perspective.
*******PROBABLY CONTAINS SOME KIND OF SPOILERS*******
1. Think of each House [Stark, Baratheon, Lannister, Greyjoy, Targaryen, Martell, Tyrell, the Dothraki etc] as agencies, competing for a single contract; which is to be king of the Seven Kingdoms, currently held by the Baratheons.
2. The Baratheons lose the contract due to unforeseeable circumstances.
3. House Stark is the next wealthiest agency, and the Head of House Stark discovers corruption within House Baratheon, involving House Lannister. The Lannisters are actively seeking to usurp all other agencies to win the King contract.
4. House Lannister unethically acquires the King Contract, to the detriment of House Stark, who goes into liquidation thereafter, and disbands due to an exodus of ’employees’ [Catelyn, Robb, Ned’s deaths, Sansa, Arya, Bran and Jon all dispersing].
5. Newly appointed CEO of the Seven Kingdoms, Joffrey
Barath Lannist Baratheon turns out to be morally and ethically corrupt, and generally inept [and vaguely psychotic– read: Boss from hell]. Which doesn’t sit well with the other agencies — particularly the Targaryens, as House Baratheon acquired the King Contract in a less than ethical way, in an incidental collaboration with House Lannister.
6. House Targaryen has just changed it’s leadership group/agency heads [after some lost their heads] and are looking to scout some contract work to support their application for the King Contract. So House Targaryen collaborates with the Dothraki, the contract sours when management for the Dothraki experience a leadership crisis [Death of a leader, as you do]. House Targaryen continues to scout ‘contract work’ in Qarth, Astapor, Yunkai and Meereen, but the implementation of their work/recommendations [abolition of slavery and the masters] comes undone, so the Head of House Tagaryen decides to spend extra time on the Meereen contract, in order to develop their reputation and skills, and hopefully rectify the situations in Astapor and Yunkai.
7. House Lannister are faced with financial issues, and the heavily fractured unity of House Baratheon. House Lannister are faced with forming a [lamented] alliance with the wealthy [yet rival] House Tyrell in an attempt to mitigate their debts. What starts as amicable [a mildly amorous] soon descends into chaos when Joffrey, CEO of the Seven Kingdoms and Head of House Lannister……’retires’.
But the two Houses must stay aligned to maintain their mutual benefits – money and power – vital to maintaining the King contract.
The void Joffrey left is filled by one of House Lannister’s lesser known young guns — Joffrey’s brother Tommen.
9.Houses Bolton, Greyjoy and a fractured faction of House Baratheon [Stannis], meanwhile, have little interest in the King Contract, and seek to usurp other Houses, over consolidating their work and improving their internal processes.
Something REALLY important to note in the GoT PR world is an absence of mass media.
10. All of these agencies, one single contract. No mass media, no social media. The only sources of information come from word of mouth and intermittent raven mail. Instead of a united focus on House branding, Houses rely on single representatives to pursue their interests and engage in negotiations, but this is often chequered by individual interests. So each respective campaign from all the Houses tend to be very aggressive — you
win spin or you die….!
- Theon Greyjoy being sent by the Starks to negotiate with his father, then he ends up usurping House Stark
- Tyrion Lannister [incidentally] negotiating with Catelyn Stark, the Hill tribes of the Vale, Lysa Arran of the Vale
- Jamie Lannister [incidentally] negotiating with Robb Stark, Ned Stark, Brienne of Tarth and the Brotherhood without Banners
- Jon Snow and Mance Rayder
- Jeor Mormont [on behalf of House Tagaryen] in Qarth
- Danerys Targaryen in Vaes Dothrak, Qarth, Astapor and Yunkai
Each House are putting forward their own interests in order to ‘tender’ their application for King contract, and then there are many complex individual interactions below the surface.
Notice negotiations never seem to go well, in Game of Thrones?
Unless you’re [Lord] Peytr Baelish.
He is the lynch-pin, the puppet master and the mockingbird.
He seems to thrive and foster anarchy [heavy competition] between agencies by being something of an ‘insider’ — “You know House XX are doing YY, and you could do ZZ to combat that, you know..” — he is not aligned, he is a contracter to the contracters.
- Betrayed House Stark when they attempted to question the Lannister tender for the King contract
- Betrayed House Lannister
- Betrayed House Arran
- Ran an illegitimate business of his own
- Voluntarily acted as a sole negotiator for multiple groups
- Repeatedly represents his own interests – ‘recruiting’ Sansa Stark, and Dontos Hollard, and his King’s Landing spies.
- Collaborating with Olena Redwyne to remove Joffrey as CEO of the Seven Kingdoms, in order to help the Tyrells consolidate Margery’s leadership within the Seven Kingdoms and within House Lannister
More analysis of Peytr in my International Relations analysis of GoT!
Also worth noting….
The Agency ‘Beyond the Wall’ [White Walkers, Wildlings] and House Martell are the equally numerous and imposing, foreign [if you like] agency which presents stiff competition to all the domestic agencies within the Seven Kingdoms.
GAME OF THRONES PR: YOU SPIN OR YOU DIE.
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