Brands are there for you in the ‘Friends’ reunion and Amazon meets James Bond: Wednesday Wake-Up Call

Welcome to Ad Age’s Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital news. If you’re reading this online or in a forwarded email, here’s the link to sign up for our Wake-Up Call newsletters. The one where the brands all pile in

HBO Max’s “Friends: The Reunion” is coming tomorrow (Thursday May 27) and brands are there for you.  As Ad Age’s Ilyse Liffreing reports, the one-off special, also known as “The One Where They Get Back Together,” is attracting marketers as if, well, they were never on a break. 

Brands piling into the “Friends” feeding frenzy include Red Lobster, which is introducing a list of dishes inspired by the show’s characters (even Gunther and Janice); Lego, which has followed up its popular “Central Perk” reconstruction with new sets recreating Monica’s and Joey’s apartments, and Ulta X Revolution, which has a 30% discount on “Friends” makeup sets.

Meanwhile, Matthew “Chandler” Perry has been hyping his own merch on Instagram, and other WarnerMedia networks are helping to promote the HBO Max event, including TBS with a live #BestofFriendsAwards celebration on social media. Viewers’ appetite for the show seems certain: “Friends Reunion” spiked on Tuesday with 42,000 mentions on Twitter, according to social analytics platform Talkwalker.Licensed to shop

“Friends” isn’t the only entertainment property set to get an imminent boost; with Amazon reportedly close to a multibillion-dollar deal to buy MGM and its blockbuster library, the move could have serious implications for the future of advertising on properties like James Bond, writes Ad Age’s Garett Sloane. 

Advertisers anticipate even deeper future brand integrations with 007, a franchise already famous for product placements, and with Amazon’s e-commerce muscle, those products could even be shoppable, according to advertisers.

“When you think of MGM, you first think ‘James Bond,’ and there is a unique selling proposition for James Bond products,” Mark Book, senior VP and head of content at Digitas, tells Sloane.“Brands come in to take over that space and then connect specifically to commerce through Amazon.com.”TV Pivot takeaways

This week, Ad Age hosted its second annual TV Pivot event, a two-day virtual panel of industry leaders designed to explore the current state of the TV ad landscape. (If you missed it, you can rewatch the daily sessions at any time, archived here.)

Key trends that emerged include an increased emphasis on intellectual property, the continued rise of streaming and the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, while industry insiders said the AT&T/Discovery merger won’t affect this year’s upfronts. Sessions also explored the impact of shoppable media and “addressable advertising.” Meanwhile, “flexibility” as a buzzword was thought best left in 2020.

Multicultural call: The U.S. today is already a multicultural society, yet brands still invest more in marketing to the so-called general market. At Ad Age Next: Multicultural Marketing, we’ll explore the inclusive strategies needed to bolster efforts to engage BIPOC consumers. RSVP for the June 29 virtual conference now. Uber’s vax thank-you

Last year, in an effort to keep everyone safe from the coronavirus, Uber made an unexpected move: It thanked people for not riding with Uber. Now, writes Ad Age’s Ann-Christine Diaz, the brand is back with another message of appreciation—for those who have gotten vaccinated against COVID-19.  In a new campaign from Wieden & Kennedy, the ride hail service shows scenes of people getting back to normal life, with the message “Thank you for getting vaccinated.” The spots come as Uber is offering four free rides in its app for every American to help them get their vaccine. Watch it over at Creativity. Just briefly

Big winnings: Philips has selected Omnicom Group as its global integrated creative, media and communications agency partner on its $300 million account following a five month pitch, reports Ad Age’s Brian Bonilla. WPP’s Ogilvy previously held the creative account since 2011 while the media account was shared between Dentsu and WPP.

‘Underwhelmed’: Advertisers are “underwhelmed” by Apple’s new ad format “search-tabs campaigns,” according to Business Insider. The format launched early May to help developers drive awareness of their apps but mobile advertisers say it’s expensive and isn’t driving a significant volume of users to download apps.

Parting ways: Jared Belsky, CEO of Dentsu’s 360i, is leaving the agency after nearly 13 years, writes Ad Age’s Judann Pollack. Belsky confirmed his departure next month, but declined to say where he is going, and his successor has yet to be named. 

Meghxit exit: Kim Kardashian has removed a level on her smartphone game, “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood,” which seemed to reference Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, reports Hello! magazine. The storyline, called Royal Runaways, featured a lookalike couple who quit royal life giving a televised interview. Kardashian said she had been unaware of the content and game maker Glu Mobile confirmed it removed it. 

That does it for today’s Wake-Up Call, thanks for reading and we hope you are all staying safe and well. For more industry news and insight, follow us on Twitter:@adage. From CMO Strategy to the Ad Age Datacenter Weekly, we’ve got newsletters galore. See them all here. 

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