Learning at least a few new things each day is a good thing. One of the many things the special women in my life (wife and daughter) taught me today is the meaning of the apparently ubiquitous acronym BFFL: “Best Friends for Life.” So, the special men in my life learned something along with me today. I’m not sure what that says about me and my boys?

Anyway, this acronym got me thinking about all the billboard advertising promoting Friends reruns I have encountered over the last several months. It’s everywhere. What has struck me about this advertising (besides the sheer volume) is how different it is from the advertising that used to run while the television series was still being filmed and before the syndication of Friends, at least, as I recall. The website for KSTC-TV Channel 45 (based in the Twin Cities) depicts the kind of promotional photograph I recall seeing reguarly while the series was running and pre-syndication:

All six Friends cast members were promoted together as a united group or ensemble of, well, friends, apparently subscribing to the belief that the whole (the program) was greater than the sum of its parts (the cast members). This marketing approach (apparently required by Warner Brothers in the early days of the program) also was consistent with and reminiscent of the solidarity the Friends cast demonstrated during their multiple contract re-negotiations with NBC and Warner Brothers over the years. It is reported that each of the six received $1 Million per episode during the last two seasons, despite the likelihood that each of their relative values most likely was not commercially equivalent.

Current Friends advertising appears to truncate Friends to Friend. In fact, in promoting viewership of the syndicated Friends programs, the current advertising would appear to suggest that Jennifer Aniston has been selected for the Friends’ BFFL role, at least by those who decide what advertising will generate the most viewers and revenue. To them, apparently nowadays, at least for advertising and promotional purposes, one of the parts (Aniston) is greater than the whole (Friends) or even the sum of all the six parts (Aniston + Cox + Kudrow + Schwimmer + Perry + LeBlanc). So, apparently Aniston, really is the Best of “Friends” For Life, at least for the time being.

For example, the Channel 45 billboard ads and mobile advertising I have seen over the past several months, now appear to focus on Jennifer Aniston alone, joined by none of her friends and cast members. In addition, the TBS Network runs Aniston-only advertisements to promote viewing of the Friends syndicated television program, here and here, and the TBS website appears to rotate two images featuring individual photos of Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry, while other billboard ads focus on Aniston alone. Apparently she’s “got somethin they haven’t got,” to quote The Great Wizard of Oz. Must be Aniston’s BFFL status.

This, however, may not be Ms. Aniston’s only role as BFFL. Since each of the six Friends cast members shares in the syndication royalties, Aniston’s five co-cast members, and friends, may also view their good friend Aniston as BFFL too, or at least her Right of Publicity, Name and Likeness, since her valuable intellectual property appears to be the primary driver to generate more viewers of the syndicated Friends programs, something each of the others appear to benefit from.

Having said all that, just so you know, I also learned today that there is apparently another lesser-known meaning associated with the BFFL acronym too (“Boyfriend For Life“). Something tells me that, at least between the two, Ms. Aniston might prefer, or least be more comfortable with the “Best Friends For Life” meaning. I know I was comforted that the “Boyfriend For Life” meaning is not the one my daughter knew of.

  • Tyson

    Couldn’t this be because she’s one of the few from the friends show to go on and have a rather successful film carrier? The others have all gone on to do other things but not with the commercial success of jennifer aniston (Matthew Perry would probably come 2nd (which might be why he and Aniston get their picture on the TBS website?)) She’s one of the few cast members that today’s younger audience sees. I don’t know just a theory.