‘Friends’ at 25: How Warner Bros. TV Built an Experiential Empire

Variety | 9/19/2019 | Danielle Turchiano
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“Friends” may have been set in New York City and filmed on a Burbank, Calif. soundstage, but its reach has truly gone global. So when Warner Bros. Television Group began brainstorming ideas on how to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the show’s debut, including that international audience became imperative for new partnerships, as well as potential revenue streams.

“We’re trying to tap into an emotional connection, and there’s many different ways that you can do that,” Lisa Gregorian, president and chief marketing officer of Warner Bros. Television Group, tells Variety. “We wanted to create something for everyone, everywhere.”

New - York - Los - Angeles - Parts

While New York and Los Angeles still play large parts in the festivities (with a multi-room “Friends” pop-up experience in New York, and select Coffee Beans being rebranded with Central Perk decor, as well as a special edition to the Warner Bros. studio tour, on the west coast), the studio is sending the iconic orange couch across the globe on a photo op tour from the observation deck at the Willis Tower in Chicago, Ill. to Abbey Road in London. Buildings around the country will light up in the colors of the dots in the show’s logo, and for three nights this fall, select “Friends” episodes, remastered in 4K, will screen in approximately 1600 movie theaters across the United States as part of a partnership with Fathom Events.

Digitially, Warner Bros. released a dedicated “Friends” Giphy channel and two unique apps. The first was the “Friends 25 App,” which consists of more than 1000 pieces of content, including season-specific trivia questions and hand-drawn art, show-themed recipes, stickers and wallpapers and 3D photo filters. This app, Gregorian notes, is offered in Spanish, Portuguese and English to reach a broader audience.

Nothing - App - Microtransactions

“There’s nothing on that app that you pay for; there’s no microtransactions that you pay for. It...
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