What can Game of Thrones teach copywriters?


Like a lot of people, I enjoy watching the HBO fantasy drama series Game of Thrones. Amongst the exciting action sequences and interesting character arcs, I realised the series can teach copywriters how to write a memorable sticky line.

For those unfamiliar with the term, here’s a quick definition. In their 2014 book Read Me, Gyles Lingwood and Roger Horberry describe a sticky line as:

“Any headline, slogan, strapline and so on that lodges in its audience’s brains and refuses to budge.”

A good sticky line can make a brand immortal. When people hear it, the brand it supports can automatically pop into an audience’s collective mind. According to advertiser Andrew Cracknell, the sickly lines that stand out the most:

“Tend to be written in the public language. There has to be rhythm or a rhyme or a quirkiness that catches the ear.”

Some examples of sticky lines that have forever stuck with their brand include:

  • Nike, and ‘Just do it.’
  • ebay, and ‘Buy it. Sell it. Love it.’
  • Tesco, and ‘Every little helps.’

All of these lines are written in plan English, and contain six syllables or less.

The North, and fans, remember

So, how does Game of Thrones come into this? It’s full of sticky lines that lodge themselves in its audience’s brains, such as:

  • “Winter is coming.”
  • “The North remembers.”
  • “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”

Like the brands I mentioned earlier, all of these GoT lines are written in plain English and use six syllables or less. 

Short, everyday words

Brands, and GoT, tell us the best sticky lines use a small number of short, everyday words.

What other sticky lines are there from this series? Do any other TV shows have good sticky lines? Feel free to share your knowledge in the comments section.


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