Brands seize on HBO Max's 'Friends' reunion, from Red Lobster to Lego
Could brands BE more excited for HBO Max’s “Friends: The Reunion” special on Thursday? They are there for you—all the viewers and shoppers looking to buy merchandise and celebrate ahead of the event. “Friends Reunion” spiked on Tuesday with 42,000 mentions on Twitter, according to social analytics platform Talkwalker.
The special, also known as “The One Where They Get Back Together,” will include all the original stars from NBC’s popular ‘90s sitcom: Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwinner, along with special guest stars and celebrities like BTS, Lady Gaga and David Beckham. At the comedy’s original soundstage, Stage 24, the group will reflect on the show and share behind-the-scenes footage. Originally delayed due to the pandemic, the special is now airing on the one-year anniversary of WarnerMedia HBO Max’s launch and 27 years after the show first aired.
Brands such as Ulta Beauty, Red Lobster, Lego are playing into the “Friends” frenzy with partnerships, discounts and events, while others are using social media to capture attention around the highly anticipated special even without show connections.
Nestlé Toll House
Remember the episode "The One with Pheobe's Cookies?" In it, Pheobe searches for her grandmother's famous cookie recipe to give to Monica as a present for her new baby. Instead, she discovers that the recipe was always on the back of Nestlé Toll House's packaging. To celebrate the reunion, the chocolate chip brand is changing the name of its original cookie recipe on its website to "Grandma Toulouse’s Secret Chocolate Chip Cookies" and is giving away free morsels and chocolate chip cookie dough on Twitter.
Ulta Beauty and Revolution Makeup
Ulta X Revolution is launching “Friends” makeup sets and promoting them with a 30% off offer. The sets feature eyeshadows and lipsticks inspired by the show’s characters. Shades are named after show references like “lobster,” “On a Break” and “Push over.” Fans of the show will also recall Joey’s Japanese “Lipstick for men,” now available for anyone. The first “Friends” makeup sets were revealed last November.
“Friends” fans will remember the episode in which Phoebe calls Rachel and Ross each other’s “lobster” because they belong together forever. Red Lobster is celebrating the episode and the reunion by introducing a list of dishes inspired by the show’s characters marketed to those signed up for its loyalty program, the brand stated Tuesday. For Rachel, it’s the Vanilla Bean Cheesecake, which as viewers might remember, she eats off the hallway floor with Chandler in “The One With All the Cheesecakes.” Ross inspires a Crispy Cod Sandwich dubbed the “Codzilla” for his love of dinosaurs and Phoebe gets a vegetarian dish, Cheddar Bay Biscuits that “will inspire you to pick up your guitar and write a song.” Even Gunther and Janice have their own inspired meals.
Lego has been preparing for the reunion for a while. Last week, the toy brand presented new “Friends” apartment sets which lets those young and young-at-heart build plastic replicas of the two main New York apartments from the show—Joey and Chandler’s apartment and Monica and Rachel’s apartment, well at least for most of the episodes. With almost 2,050 pieces, the sets come complete with a turkey, Barcaloungers, Monica’s messy closet and other pieces to recreate scenes from the show and minifigures of the whole gang. The sets will be available on June 1 for $149.99.
Matthew Perry’s own merchandise
Matthew Perry is promoting with his own apparel and accessory line of merchandise ahead of HBO Max’s Reunion show, all of which leans into his sarcastic Chandler Bing character. Could he BE more eager to cash in? On Perry’s Represent.com online store, the star is selling $44.99 hoodies and $26.99 T-shirts with sayings like “Could I be more me?” and “Could I have had a longer day?” A $15.99 baby onesie reads: “I’ll talk to you about it later” and a dog bandana reads: “Could I be any more of a dog?” One shirt, which reads: “Could I be any more vaccinated?” has seen backlash on social media for profiting by linking the reunion with the pandemic.
Other WarnerMedia networks are helping to promote the HBO Max event. TBS, a subsidiary of WarnerMedia, is hosting a live #BestofFriendsAwards celebration on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube at 8:30pm ET hosted by Sarah Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”). At tbs.com/BestOfFriendsAwards, people can vote for their favorite show moments like best food-related moment and best celebrity cameo for a chance to win a “Friends” prize pack.
Clothing, and accessory store Francesca’s has a collection of “Friends” gift shop merchandise and is giving shoppers 40% off to celebrate the reunion.
Outside of selling themed items or hosting events, other brands are making sure they’re still part of the cultural conversation on social media. Thanks to Central Perk, the coffeehouse in the show, coffee brands fit naturally into the “Friends” reunion, as do pizza brands, thanks to Joey’s obsession. Lacking a connection to the show is not stopping some brands from weighing in, however. Below, a look at some of the social media frenzy.