'Friends Reunion': The one with all the lessons for brand marketers

The iconic American TV show's reunion episode was a global event. Here are four marketing lessons to take away from the episode

Updated: Jun 7, 2021 05:57:18 PM UTC

Neil George is the Managing Director of a leading MNC in India. He is also the author of the brand management comic ‘Building the Perfect Beast – What Really Happens in Brand Management', published by Harper Collins.

Friends-Reunion_SM
Image: HBO Max

On May 27, HBO Max released the long-awaited Friends Reunion episode (or shall we call it ‘The 237th episode’) globally. Here are four key learnings for every brand marketer to take away from the Reunion and ‘Friends’, a well-loved, successful and revenue generating brand.

Build and nurture your brand on emotional and ‘physical’ elements
Every great brand is built on a foundation of strong target audience, its physical core (packaging, product, benefits, price, fragrance, and more) and an eternally strong emotional core (feelings, memories, and values).

'Friends Reunion' makes for a compelling watch for the audience that grew up watching the show from 1994 to 2004 (think, younger Gen X men and women under 35 years, no kids and preoccupied with work and leisure activities). The Reunion episode has once again captured the hearts and minds of this audience, and has packaged all the emotion, laughter, competitiveness, romance, friendly characters, famous scenes, and more, into one very watchable over the 100-minute episode.

Result: The producers have landed a brand relaunch that delivers strong emotional bonding with the Friends brand almost from the first minute.

Brand assets matter. Identify, protect and grow them over time
Just as good packaging, logo design, and product characteristics matter for traditional brands, the Reunion episode brings some of the classic brand assets of the original show back to life.

Central Perk, the Smelly Cat song by Phoebe (a duet with Lady Gaga), Monica's apartment, the music, Gunther ‘the coffee shop’ guy, and Janice’s iconic "OMG" strike the nostalgic cord.

Create buzz The episode itself is hosted by James Corden and has multiple celebrities who show up in the 100 minutes to add star value. Many global media outlets covered the launch with interesting tidbits about the episode and the cast. Stories about how much each star made for the episode (anywhere from $1-5 million per star) helped pique viewers' interest. Social media posts from the cast added to the frenzy.

Refresh younger and global audiences
For the Reunion episode. the producers have very smartly plugged in global youth icons like BTS, David Beckham, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, and Malala Yousafzai to make the brand relevant for the Gen Y and Gen Z crowd.

The learning for brands is simple. While it is important to build on your history, brands need to constantly acquire new streams of business by targeting younger consumers who will eventually become the core of the brand. Brands that fail to do so die slowly by steady declines in revenues and equity.

The writer is a Managing Director of a leading MNC in India. He is also the author of the brand management comic ‘Building the Perfect Beast – What Really Happens in Brand Management', published by Harper Collins

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