HBO expands partnership with Duolingo for GOT spinoff

    • Language learning app Duolingo has partnered with the “Game of Thrones” prequel series “House of the Dragon” to release a series of language-based activations to generate hype for the show’s release on August 21, per information shared with Marketing Dive.
    • The activations include updates to Duolingo’s High Valyrian course, the fictitious language spoken on the show. HBO’s House of the Dragon: DracARys app, which launches on July 20, will feature AR dragons that users can raise and command in High Valyrian.
    • In addition to the digital activations, the language service will place cryptic billboards featuring High Valyrian text across key markets, generating interest and fan chatter. Additionally, two months of Duolingo Plus, its premium model, will be made available to HBO subscribers in a special offer.

    “Game of Thrones,” raked in 59 Emmy awards and pulled 19.3 million viewers for its final episode across network and streaming platforms. The highly successful fantasy drama also generated a slew of product integrations, including a Scotch whisky line by Diageo and a monopoly game. “Game of Thrones” reached such a cultural saturation that many people have attempted to learn the constructed languages (conlangs) spoken in the show. By the time the final episode of the show aired, High Valyrian had 822,000 active learners on Duolingo.

    As part of the release, Duolingo will be adding 150 new vocabulary words and 700 new sentences to the High Valyrian module. Like most conlangs, High Valyrian is still developing, and does not have a complete vocabulary. The app worked with linguist David Peterson, who developed Dothraki and High Valyrian based on George R.R. Martin’s books for the show, for the additions. 

    Both fans of the show and conlang enthusiasts may have their interest sparked with the additions and an interactive pronunciation tool. Duolingo has a reputation for outlandish marketing efforts, with its TikTok being described as “unhinged” by some, so going all in on a conlang with cryptic billboards is likely to be seen as on-brand for fans. It could also help the service promote and grow its paid tier. 

    “This unique partnership around learning High Valyrian will enable fans across the globe to see how fun learning a new language can be while connecting closer with the world of Westeros,” said George Audi, head of business development at Duolingo in a press release.

    Conlangs have always sparked a curiosity in popular culture, with the most popular conlang, Esperanto, boasting over two million speakers. Other highly popular conlangs include Klingon (“Star Trek”), Quenya and Sindarin (“Lord of The Rings”) and Dothraki (“Game of Thrones”). High Valyrian is the language of choice of House Targaryan, the main focus in “House of the Dragon.” 


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