Neel Williams is an associate creative director at The Martin Agency in Richmond, VA.
If you’ve noticed a palpable anticipation in the air lately, it’s not just because Raekwon’s new album is dropping in a few weeks. Game of Thrones’ fifth season is about to begin and it’s got nerds around the world (myself included) in need of a proper fainting couch.
One of the great things about GoT is its perfect mix of drama, violence and frontal nudity. Another great thing is how the show’s characters run the gamut from heroic and moral to despicable and putrid. Hey, this is starting to sound a lot like an agency! OK, so the violence is mostly passive aggressive in ad life, but it’s hard not to see some slight similarities between the show and everyday agency culture.
So without further ado, here is what Game of Thrones might look like if it was an advertising agency. Please understand that there are like 5,000 characters on GOT so most of them have been left out, some of them are currently deceased, and there are plenty of spoilers if you haven’t watched any of the series. OK, now read on.
Arguably the most lovable, faithful character in the whole series (if you haven’t watched “Game of Hodor” on YouTube, do it right now). Hodor gets Bran Stark where he wants to go, quite literally. Production is the muscle behind any great idea. Without it, nothing would happen and you’d just be stuck on the ground ruing the day you accidentally became witness to some hot Lannister incest and got pushed out a window. (Note: most producers are far better conversationalists than Hodor.)
Tywin Lannister: Accounting
Head of House Lannister, Tywin is as pragmatic — and rich — as they come. He’s all about the numbers and the outcome. This approach has taken him and his family to the pinnacle of Westeros. As any good number-cruncher knows, you can only get so far on creative strength if you can’t keep the lights on. In the end, the Lannister motto says it all: “A Lannister always pays his debts.” Too bad not all clients share that point of view.
The Night’s Watch: I.T.
A motley crew of bastards, rapists and youngest sons (I’m talking about The Night’s Watch…relax!) They are the first and last line of protection from the scariest of foes. It’s easy to get wrapped up in Game of Thrones with all its drama and politics, but that means nothing when you’re confronted with a million zombies wielding swords. In the agency world, the only thing scarier than an undead army is the prospect of your internet search history falling into the hands of a hacker. Sure, we totally believe that “Naked Golden Girls Pics” was a work-related search.
Varys: Account Management
With a network of informants across several continents, Varys the Eunuch uses this intelligence to the realm’s (and his own) advantage. For a guy with no physical assets, he shows some pretty strong metaphorical ones from time to time. Just like Varys, any good account person should be focused on fostering relationships and gaining inside knowledge that can one day come in handy…COUGH…blackmail…COUGH-COUGH.
Daenerys Targaryen + Her Dragons: Creative
Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, Khaleesi of the something-or-other. She’s racked up a lot of impressive-sounding titles and has the whiz-bang thunder of three dragons. Unfortunately, you can’t really domesticate dragons and sometimes they eat small children. So it is with Creative, the firepower of any agency worth its salt. Sure, they’re hard to tame and difficult to love, but if you ever need a Super Bowl spot in 24 hours (or get imprisoned by warlocks in a creepy tower), man are they handy to have around.
Lady Stark: Human Resources
There’s not a whole lot of compassion in the Seven Kingdoms, but Lady Stark provides a strong example of motherly love. She was mostly kind and completely devoted to her (legitimate) children. In a similar way, Human Resources is all about the people, making sure they’re taken care of and looked after. H.R. also isn’t afraid to “slap the taste out your mouf” if you disrespect your siblings. Momma keeps it real.
Jon Snow: Project Management
On GoT, it’s tough to find a heroic character who’s still above ground. Somehow Snow manages it. In Season 4, Ned Stark’s bastard keeps 100,000 wildlings at bay when pretty much everyone else on The Wall has gone bonkers. Snow takes the reins, keeps everyone on task and does a hell of a lot with a tiny force. This is Project Management at its best, a calm yet assertive force that can turn 5 fingers into a powerful, Wildling-smashing fist.
Tyrion Lannister: Planning
What Lord Tyrion lacks in stature, he more than makes up for in strategy. His thoughtful planning saved King’s Landing from Stannis Baratheon’s navy. And what did he get in return? A big scar on his face and the hatred of his entire family. Yep, planning can be a bit thankless at times, but without good strategy sometimes all it takes is a mosquito fart to send your castle defenses a-crumbling.
Stannis Baratheon’s Weird Spirit Baby: Freelancers
In one of the more odd moments in GOT, Stannis Baratheon’s Red Priestess gives birth to a shadowy spirit that goes and kills his enemy/brother. The whole thing leaves everybody feeling a bit…icky. Freelancers aren’t nearly that scary, but they do come at a steep cost for carrying out a singular task. Then they disappear into the ether never to be seen or spoken of again.
If you actually read through each of these, you deserve a merit badge. If you skimmed through a few and then got down here, well, I can’t blame you. Let’s just all be glad we’re not actually in Game of Thrones because “winter is coming” and half of us would be dead already. So let’s just kick back with a nice cup of ale and enjoy what season 5 has to offer. Rest assured, it will be packed with more vices than one of Lord Baelish’s brothels.