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Why Ryan Reynolds Is a Marketing Genius

16 June 2022
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Why Ryan Reynolds Is a Marketing Genius

Ryan Reynolds is one of the highest-paid actors in the world. His 30-year career has grossed more than $5bn at the box office but the Deadpool star is just as likely to be found supporting one of his many investments in recent years as to be spotted on a movie set.

The rise of Reynolds, the marketing and advertising genius, is an ongoing story that brands can take inspiration from.

Where it started

It all started just four years ago when Reynolds founded Maximum Effort, a film production company and digital marketing agency, alongside George Dewey. The pair had worked together on low-budget but incredibly successful ads for the first two Deadpool films and decided to use their experiences and know-how as a springboard for a new enterprise in the industry.

Maximum Effort has since been involved in a range of high-budget movies, including the Reynolds-fronted Free Guy, The Adam Project, and Spirited. But it’s the authentic, humorous and viral approach to marketing that Deadpool popularised that Reynolds still relies upon to spread the word about his ventures.

If you didn’t know, Reynolds has since invested in five other startups or existing companies: Mint Mobile, Aviation Gin, Wealthsimple, 1Password and Wrexham AFC.

Why it works 

The landing page for Maximum Effort’s official site encapsulates Reynolds’ cheeky, laid-back tone for generating new leads and awareness. He states that the company makes content “for the personal amusement” of Reynolds and that they “occasionally release them to the general public”.

Reynolds’ Twitter account follows a similar pattern of amusing anecdotes, sarcastic reactions and funny one-liners for the products he supports. A recent Father’s Day campaign for Aviation Gin urged consumers to “gift the dad in your life an @AviationGin Vasectomy”.

Reynolds acquired a large stake in Aviation Gin in 2018 and while the company has since been sold, he still retains an “ongoing ownership interest” and promotes the spirit on social media and in his movies. That means a product placement in the upcoming Deadpool 3 movie is a certainty.

Reynolds has been vocal in stating that his greatest asset for marketing is in raising awareness, which is not surprising, considering his movie star credentials, 40m fans on Instagram and 20m followers on Twitter. As a mega-influencer, he can help a startup to gain recognition and traction quickly.

However, rather than inauthentic promotions and quick cash grabs, Reynolds favours more credible and long-lasting affiliations with the companies he buys into. He wants audiences to know that his passion for a brand is credible and authentic, and he walks the walk by becoming steeped in its history and culture.

Reynolds also brings a sprinkle of leading man charisma to the advertisements he features in. A quick look at the commercials he has created with Aviation is a testament to this. Aviation says this content is more than just advertising, it is “entertainment” in its own right.

Marketers can take lessons from this, most notably that any content that is published should be creative, entertaining and memorable. Reynolds makes advertisements that you want to watch, retweet and share with others.

Reynolds’ work on ads for Deadpool also showed how reacting to and commenting on real-time cultural moments can really create a buzz and excitement about a movie or brand. The Canadian-born star even has a name for his strategy – “fast-vertising”.

Reynolds did this, again, with Aviation, when he responded to Peloton’s awkward ad featuring a husband gifting his wife an exercise bike – which was blasted as sexist – by making the actress the star of a video ad enjoying a gin with the tagline “Exercise bike not included”.

Peloton didn’t take that personally, though, as it had recently worked with Maximum Effort to promote the health benefits of cycling, after Chris Noth, the star of And Just Like That, the latest series of Sex and the City, was killed off. The ad concludes that Noth is still very much alive and well.

Ryan Reynolds and Wrexham FC

While Reynolds was already widely known in the UK due to his big-screen exploits, a recent decision to spend less time in Hollywood and more in a small town in Wales has endeared him to a new legion of fans. Reynolds’s £2m takeover of Wrexham AFC, a football club that competes in the fifth tier of the English football league system, may appear to be a strange decision at first glance but it very much dovetails with his marketing and advertising ethos.

Reynolds wants his new club to create a clear identity that reinforces its traditional values while being creative, ambitious and forward-thinking. In his typical deprecative humour when addressing local fans, he notes: “you’ll be fed up of us!”, before adding, “we want to be great ambassadors for the club, to introduce the club to the world and be a global force.”

Reynolds partnered with fellow actor Rob McElhenney to purchase Wrexham and while it has not translated to on-pitch success just yet after the club missed out on promotion this season, his passion and commitment to the venture are very much evident. His closer ties to Wrexham also saw him demand that his recent Netflix blockbuster, Red Notice, included Welsh subtitles to cater to local communities in the country.

What we can learn

This is the authenticity and level of care that Reynolds brings to his investments, which is something that bigger businesses can learn from, especially when it’s easy to overlook how certain decisions can affect people in the real world. A content marketing strategy that puts the onus on customers’ feelings, needs and desires is likely to resonate more than a strategy that is business-focused, especially in B2C spaces.

It also helped Maximum Effort to forge a reputation as one of the hottest creative shops in advertising, which resulted in its acquisition by MNTN. On the development, Reynolds noted: “We wanted a future for our marketing arm that ensured we could continue to move fast, have fun and do really rewarding work.”

Marketing teams should strive to follow these three principles when managing campaigns to stand out from the rest. If you want to pick up the speed of your creative efforts but don’t have the in-house staff to support the publication of high-quality articles, blogs and social media posts consistently, Atlas SEO can help. We offer a range of services infused with SEO best practices so you can rank in Google search results too. Contact us today to find out more.

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