Hollywood actor and business owner, Ryan Reynolds, co-founded the advertising agency, Maximum Effort, as a way to promote his own brands. In doing so, he flipped the ad world on its head and made his companies and himself a pretty penny in the process.
The success story of Reynold’s breakout hit, Deadpool, is now one of Hollywood legends. After the failure of his superhero film, Green Lantern, studio producers were less inclined to take a chance on his passion project, Deadpool.
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Solving A Problem
In fact, a day before shooting began, the studio execs cut the film’s budget by $8 million. Mr. Reynolds decided to use the relatively meager budget to his advantage by replacing lack of money with character and story. What resulted was a film that connected with audiences to such a degree that the film ultimately grossed over $800 million and became the highest grossing R-rated movie of all time.
The actor knew that he had struck gold, and when the sequel to Deadpool was released, Reynolds co-founded his advertising agency, Maximum Effect, as a way to promote the movie in a fashion similar to what made the first movie so popular.
It was a simple formula: Stop relying on big budgets and data analysis to reach customers and start relying on storytelling, emotion, and making fun of the status quo and social norms to get people talking and draw them in. Reynolds, along with his business partner, George Dewey, gave themselves stricter deadlines, limited their advertising budget to $1 million, and sought to break the norms of conventional advertising.
Paint Him Viral
One of the first examples of this was a video that had the Deadpool character doing a parody of Bob Ross’ The Joy of Painting. Maximum Effort also worked with Fox Home Entertainment to design DVD covers of movies such as Fight Club and X-men with the Deadpool character on them. They then placed the DVDs in Walmart stores across the U.S.. The formula worked. Deadpool 2 grossed more than $784 million in its first year alone.
But Mr. Reynolds wasn’t done. From there, Maximum Effort began making short, guerilla style videos for his other companies as well. Thanks to the unconventional and boundary pushing humor of the ads, the videos instantly went viral.
For his company, Aviation American Gin, Reynolds partnered with Virgin Atlantic Airlines to serve the gin on its flights and in its clubhouse lounges. Maximum Effort created a video featuring Reynolds with Virgin Atlantic’s owner, Sir Richard Branson, to create a hilarious video with the two men announcing their partnership. In the video, Reynolds tries to sound more like his billionaire partner Branson by using nonsensical business jargon. “As a businessman, we’re focused on R.O.I., K.P.I., 3.P.O., E.P.S., and OMGWTF.”
The video, along with several others like it, were a huge success. The gin company was ultimately sold to another company for an estimated $610 million. After the sale, Mr. Reynolds spoke to MSN about the experience with the brand and the marketing behind it.
“A little over two years ago, I became an owner of Aviation Gin because I love the taste of Aviation more than any other spirit. What I didn’t expect was the sheer creative joy learning a new industry would bring. Growing the brand with my company, Maximum Effort Marketing, has been among the most fulfilling projects I’ve ever been involved with. I want to thank Diageo for their incredible team and passion. We’re so excited for the next chapter of Aviation Gin, which, I promise, will require just as little reading.”
For his company Mint Mobile, Reynolds chose to skip the $5 million price tag of a thirty second Superbowl ad. Instead, Maximum Effect took out a full page ad in The New York Times, offering to wave the $15/ month fees for the first three months of service for those customers who signed up with Mint Mobile during the Superbowl game. This, along with other Youtube ads featuring Reynolds talking up the company have meant an increase in revenue by nearly 50,000% in the past three years.
In attempting to build the brands of his own movies and products, Maximum Effort has made Mr. Reynolds a very wealthy man. As of January, 2021 he is worth an estimated $150 million. His marketing company has also proven what can be accomplished when advertising takes chances and truly engages with their audience. No longer is Maximum Effort simply a way to plug Reynold’s own brands. It is now a fully functioning marketing and production company with other clients such as Match.com now signing on.
Be that as it may, in an interview with techcrunch.com the actor explains that his agenda in marketing is not completely based on capitalism.
“I’m really focused on community and bringing people together. We think it’s super cool to bring people together, particularly in a world that is very divisive. Even in our marketing, we try to find ways to have huge cultural moments without polarizing people without dividing people without saying one thing is wrong.”
Next: Ryan Reynolds Reacts To Hugh Jackman’s Uncensored Rear Making It Onto Disney+
Sources: techcrunch, wealthygorilla, mintmobile, youtube, americanaviationgin, maximumeffort, screenrant, msn
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