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Game of Thrones Leaks Game of Thrones Leaks

Are leaks becoming the new free publicity stunt?

The first thing that a savvy marketer will say when answering this question is to tell us that this is nothing new. Leaks have been a crucial part of public relations since the invention of public relations. Governments use them to shift public sentiment. Companies use them to build buzz. Even celebrity publicists use them to make their clients relevant again. How can we tell which ones are real and which ones are intended to manipulate?

Game of Thrones Leaks

Two recent leaks are both drawing looks from excited fans getting to see things ahead of time as well as skeptical journalists asking whether the leaks were intended. This weekend, the Game of Thrones fifth season had a major leak with half of the season currently available through torrent sites. This caused some to point to HBO as a potential source of the leak, though most are calling it a blow to ratings.

Another leak happened today with images of LG’s G4 hitting the internet two weeks before launch. Well known leaker Evan Blass is to “blame” for this, but it’s clear that people are talking about the phone now rather than waiting until launch. Will it make the launch even more successful or will it make it anti-climactic?

There are certain buzzwords that work in marketing. “New” and “redesigned” are two of the most popular. As Don Draper, a character in the show Mad Men once pointed out, another powerful concept is that of nostalgia. On the opposite side of the spectrum is the concept of leaks. When something is leaked, it’s not supposed to be available for public consumption. This generates a desire to look at something even if we normally would never consider it.

This is the case with the LG G4. While we would never accuse the company of intentionally leaking it, there’s now more interest in the phone than there was before. The company has struggled with staying relevant in a crowded smartphone arena. This leak will get more eyeballs on it visually and since many of the specs are already available, they will be seen by more people than with a traditional launch.

Public relations and marketing are tricky. They require subtlety while being loud, cleverness while being accessible. Are leaks now becoming the norm? If so, will they eventually start to fizzle in buzz?

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