25th - 26th SEPTEMBER 2019  |  OLYMPIA

Lego’s 'Friends' set is the obvious collab we should have seen coming

Ad Age 09 Aug 2019 06:38

Some might think we’ve reached peak "Friends" nostalgia—Pottery Barn recently released a retail collection to celebrate the well-loved sitcom’s 25th anniversary and WarnerMedia’s new direct streaming service just picked up the series to run next spring.

Or, if you miss Joey, Chandler, Ross, Rachel, Monica and Phoebe enough, perhaps you'll pay $30 to experience a replica Central Perk pop-up shop in New York, modeled after the gang’s favorite hangout spot, and museum—and likely stand on line for the experiential privilege.

Now Lego has entered the fray, with the toymaker clearly recognizing the financial potential of Friends’ long-running popularity: This week, Lego debuted its own Lego Ideas Central Perk set, which includes a recreation of the café and memorabilia from the show. Replicas of all main characters are included, even Gunther, the pathetic coffee shop owner.

The new Lego kit might not be much of a stretch considering the brand already sells its own Lego Friends collection, which is not affiliated with the show and includes toys and kid-friendly episodes about the adventures of a group of BFFs, Andrea, Emma, Mia, Olivia and Stephanie. (No Gunther in this group.) Some on Twitter were quick to point out the obvious connection.

Incidentally Lego Friends, like the TV show "Friends," also deploys an earworm of an opening jingle, though instead of “I’ll be there for you,” the characters repeat “Me and my best friends, forever till the end, me and my best girl friends," several times over.

The "Friends" set, retailing for $59.99, will go on sale Sept. 1. According to a spokeswoman, Lego came up with the concept from its Lego Ideas crowdsourcing platform, which encourages fans to submit ideas. Other brands like Coca Cola have also used crowdfunding as an inexpensive way to not only source ideas but also test new products in small batches.

Lego will rely on its public relations team and its owned channels, including its site and social media, to market the new product, a spokeswoman says. Already, many are weighing in on Twitter, including Matthew Perry, the actor who played Chandler.

After layoffs and declining sales in 2017, Lego has been struggling to remain relevant in an increasingly digitized toy landscape. Yet tapping into pop culture with collaborations like "Star Wars" and "Harry Potter," as well as the new "Friends" show replica kit, have helped the Danish brand back to black. The company has also focused on new retailer partnerships following the recent demise of Toys R Us, executives have said. Earlier this year, Lego reported a 4 percent growth in revenue to 36.5 DKK, the equivalent of $5.5 billion, for 2018, as well as a 4 percent increase in profit for the year compared with 2017.




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