Updated: Apr 3, 2020
"Friends" episodes may no longer be on Netflix, but you can sit on a replica of the iconic orange couch in Chicago and other cities.
The marketing activation – dubbed the "Friends 25 Couch Tour" – commemorates 25 years since the show debuted in 1994, and launched September in iconic locations across the U.S. Arguably the most scenic backdrop for the famous couch is the Grand Canyon, which tied into the National Parks' celebration of its hundredth anniversary.
As a diehard "Friends" fan who's seen every episode and quotes it in everyday conversation (especially as a Chicagoan, "Could I BE wearing any more clothes?"), I had to visit. And as a marketer, I offer my critique.
There are three photo opp areas:
The iconic orange couch and arm chairs, on which the cast sat in every episode, among tons of A-list guest stars like Julia Roberts and George Clooney
Phoebe's guitar and mic stand
The coffee bar where, for a few seasons, Rachel half-heartedly slung coffee from (and where, for all seasons, her admirer Gunther watched from afar as she entertained sub-par boyfriends)
Each area looks authentic to the show, and the objects can be picked up and played with, unlike Disney World ride cues where everything's glued to immovability. I beautifully sang "Smelly Cat" with Phoebe's guitar, if you were wondering.
The only room for improvement here is a missed opportunity for AT&T branding imparted on those coming just for the pop-up. I appreciate "AT&T" not egregiously labeled on the coffee mugs. But perhaps handing out a collectible flyer – designed with '90s fonts and images of the era's brick cell phones – offering a store discount would've kept the host on fans' minds.
Window shopper grab-ability
The Michigan Avenue AT&T Store was the perfect choice for the Chicago pop-up, with its floor-to-ceiling windows plainly showing off the bright orange couch to passers-by. The foot traffic on Michigan Avenue rivals Time Square, with most of the street's stores their Chicago flagship.
However, the sprawling layout of the store and a lack of signage nearly made me miss the Friends-focused gift shop area of the store. A lot of missed revenue there. A-
Customer stick-around potential
Think back on the last time you bought a new phone. Anywhere in your purchase process, did you visit your wireless carrier's brick-and-mortar store? I'll assume most would answer "no." Therefore, the AT&T store had the perfect opportunity to keep "Friends" fans – mostly Millennials with more spending power than their young adult counterparts in the past 50 years – in the store.
I can't begin to imagine what the licensing fee was for AT&T to leverage the "Friends" brand in their stores, so a return on investment is quite important. C-
Want to spill the tea, er, coffee with your friends at a pop-up near you? These North American cities still have the couch at certain AT&T stores:
New York City’s Times Square
Mall of America in Minneapolis
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