How Ryan Reynolds accidentally became an advertising industry powerhouse after 10-year battle to make ‘Deadpool’
Ryan Reynolds may be best known for the dry-witted, perpetually funny persona he plays in almost all of his films, but off-camera he has slowly become one of the most sought-after and influential creators in advertising.
The Deadpool star, who is co-founder of film production company and digital marketing agency Maximum Effort, has had a string of viral hits since the company's founding in 2018 with ads he co-produced and wrote.
Reynolds sold the company to ad tech firm MNTN last year, but still plays a hands-on role as chief creative officer.
Speaking to a host of industry leaders to a packed auditorium at the Cannes Lions festival on the French Riviera, he revealed that his entry into the industry was largely a matter of circumstance rather than design.
"Maximum Effort happened purely by accident," Reynolds admitted.
"I spent 10 years making the movie Deadpool and it was hell. I rolled that rock up the hill every day and it just didn't work."
The star said he'd been forced to use some innovative and "rather unorthodox" marketing tricks — including leaking test footage — to finally get the green light from Hollywood execs, but even then he still had an uphill battle ahead.
"The studio never really believed in it," Reynolds added.
"They gave us absolutely nothing to make the film compared to other comic book movies.
"We had to make every dollar feel like 10, and as we did that I learned left, right and center.
"We replaced spectacle with character, and it worked well and really landed."
Reynolds revealed that he drove home in the now-iconic red and black suit on the final day of Deadpool's shoot, having put his heart and soul into the production, and that moment grew into the next phase in his endorsement of marketing genius.
"Me and George Dewey, my co-founder of Maximum Effort, then started marketing the suit and having fun without disclosing parts of the film, and it turned out to be really successful," Reynolds said.
"I then used some of that sweet Deadpool money to buy Aviation Gin and I had to market that, so we accidentally became a marketing company.
“Suddenly we were having the time of our lives. We then started to expand into other clients and work on projects that we really wanted to work on and brands that we really wanted to work on.”
Reynolds, the majority owner of Aviation Gin, Mint Mobile and Wrexham, the world's oldest professional soccer club, has also produced hit ads for Match.com comparing Satan to a depiction of 2020.
He famously capitalized on the aftermath of a Peloton commercial that was widely circulated by recruiting the same actress for an Aviation Gin commercial.
His most recent viral success is a Father's Day hookup with Nick Cannon, during which the rapper/comedian whips up an aviation cocktail called a vasectomy.
This story was originally featured on Fortune.com
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