Dr Mumbo

Game of Comms: using Game of Thrones to understand earned media

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 10.33.47 amDr Mumbo loves it when people use popular culture to break apart industry lingo – so was delighted when Klick Communications’ boss Kim McKay explained the difference between paid, owned, shared and earned media using an analogy from Game of Thrones.

“Let’s look at comms the same way we look at the families of Game of Thrones,” said McKay.

“Game of Thrones can teach you a lot about the communications landscape and how earned, owned, shared, paid media all have a role to play in helping a brand’s influencer. Did you know how many parallels the show draws with media? They are both complex, fast moving, confusing and powerful.

“Sometimes the similarities are really obvious. In a Game of Thrones episode we’re looking at about 14 deaths, the same happens in the media each week as well,” she quipped with a slide referencing redundancies across the media landscape.

Here’s how McKay explained paid media, owned media, shared media and earned media.

PAID MEDIA – The Lannisters

“They’re strong with lots of money although everyone knows them it doesn’t mean they like them,” she said.

OWNED MEDIA – The Starks

“If we look at your owned media, it’s loyal and predictable like the Starks, and loved. But ultimately it can be at a disadvantage if it’s not in a power-play or working with the Lannisters, it needs a bit of paid to support it.”

SHARED MEDIA – The Tyrells

“Shared – new to the block, probably five years old. The Tyrells for us represent this evolved approach which is now supporting, and gaining power, from the Lannisters or as we’re talking about paid media.”


“Our favourite Khalessi. She started out with no money, no land but she had a great story and she had dragons and she is our representative of earned media.”

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 10.33.56 am

Dr Mumbo now awaits the Game of Thrones tragics to pick holes in the analogy.


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