In December 2020, a viral ad debuted online, showing Satan finding his perfect match, a woman, by the name of 2020. The ad showed the journey from the moment that the couple was first matched up online, to their first meeting and date, and ending with the couple’s various misdeeds around a town.
When the ad first premiered, the public showed its overwhelming support, and the creator behind the ad, actor Ryan Reynolds, expected that same reaction. The actor’s marketing company, Maximum Effort, worked on the ad itself, producing, co-writing it, and generally turning the company into one of the biggest advertising attractions.
Although Reynolds had a dislike for marketing at the start of his acting career, throughout the years, and especially when trying to turn the passion project Deadpool into a movie, he changed his mind. Working on the guerrilla campaign for Deadpool alongside the marketing exec George Dewey, who used to work with McCann, the film ended up becoming one of the highest-grossing R-rated movies of all time.
The reason behind Reynold’s marketing success is the primary approach – it’s a tool that’s not seen as promoting, as much as telling engaging stories. Additionally, because of this perspective, the marketing company, Maximum Effort, has consistently created fascinating viral ads for a variety of projects and clients.
The ads that Reynolds works on, through Maximum Effort, often capture the similar sarcastic humor that his Deadpool character had in the films. The ads also have small budgets and self-imposed deadlines, which means that they tend to swap out expensive sets for limited locations, and the scripts are cut down to their bare bones, focusing solely on the ideas.
One of those ads, for example, is when the company created a promotional campaign for Reynolds’ own Aviation Gin. When the airline Virgin Atlantic agreed to serve the alcoholic beverage on its flights and in its lounges, Maximum Effort, and Reynolds, created a hilarious video starring alongside Sir Richard Branson, the founder of the airline.
In the ad, the two made fun of the cliches that come with marketing luxury alcoholic beverages, through a simple setting where the two are simply sitting in front of the camera, but the real meat of the ad is in the conversation between the two.
Another example is the traditional route that the company took with a Mint Mobile promotional campaign during the 2019 Super Bowl. Instead of filming an elaborate ad, and spending millions for a small TV slot, Mint Mobile with Ryan Reynolds decided to buy an ad on the front page of the New York Times. The ad announced that new customers that would be signing up for the telecommunications company’s service would forego the first three months of payments.
There are plenty of lessons from these campaigns that companies can learn from, and employ in various marketing efforts, such as thinking outside of the box and breaking up the marketing status-quo, evoking strong emotions through the ads, or creating topical and relevant ads to connect with the viewers.
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