Bolder Thinking Blog

HBO Max leverages Jennifer Aniston and Instagram to tease the “Friends” reunion

May 24th, 2021 | Emily Groch

Earlier this month, HBO Max finally announced the premiere date of the much-anticipated “Friends” reunion special, and Jennifer Aniston helped spread the news, as always, through her social media. Aniston has been the biggest mouthpiece for the “Friends” reunion starting with her very first Instagram post. Rumors of a “Friends” reunion began to fly when Aniston launched her Instagram account in 2019 with a candid selfie of the “Friends” crew back together. The post generated 16.4M likes and 527k comments.

Oct. 15, 2019 | Aniston’s first IG post
Source: Mintel social media monitoring [10/01/2019 – 05/17/2021] as of 05/17/2021

It was a brilliant move for the star to initiate her Instagram presence in this way, driving rumors of the reunion far beyond the platform itself, as entertainment outlets picked up the news of her Instagram debut and that initial post.

The buzz continued with other posts featuring the “Friends” cast members, including one confirming the reunion. This post generated 11 million likes and 307k comments.

Feb. 21, 2021 | Aniston confirms the reunion
Source: Mintel social media monitoring [10/01/2019 – 05/17/2021] as of 05/17/2021

Finally, Aniston revealed the reunion premiere date, driving much more engagement than HBO Max could build on its social platforms.

May 13, 2020 | Premiere date reveal
Source: Mintel social media monitoring [10/01/2019 – 05/17/2021] as of 05/17/2021

Aniston shared the teaser video on her account, along with the premiere date, generating over 21 million views and 276k comments in fewer than five days.

The views of Aniston’s post were more than 17 times higher than the views of HBO Max’s post sharing the teaser video and likely reached an audience with an affinity for the show.

Aniston’s social media following enabled HBO Max to create an authentic connection between its content and fans

According to Mintel research, followers of celebrity influencers on social media feel increasingly connected to the influencers they follow, and over a third of such consumers even say they trust them. It was smart for Aniston to serve as a mouthpiece for the reunion, as most of her fans are probably also “Friends” fans, who will excitedly turn to HBO Max to continue indulging in their favorite content.

What we think

The exciting “Friends” Reunion Special could help drive HBO Max sign-ups, while the full library of “Friends” episodes may entice them to stay. HBO Max smartly created an air of mystery around the reunion of the popular 90s sitcom, with Jennifer Aniston building the intrigue with her Instagram account. Most likely, the reunion will resonate with fans of the show, just as Aniston’s social media activity does. “Friends” fans who aren’t subscribing to HBO Max will likely sign up (or use a friend’s login–no pun intended) to watch. A reunion special is a great way to remind fans of favorite old episodes, and drive them back into that content. If HBO Max can get new users going back to the “Friends” library, they have a good chance of getting those new sign-ups to stick around.

Emily Groch

Emily Groch

Emily Groch is Comperemedia’s Director of Insights, Telecommunications, providing omni-channel marketing analysis and competitive insights to telecom providers.