In the last two years, famous movie star Ryan Reynolds bought ownership stakes in two brands. With his marketing and ad campaigns, he converted them into two popular brands. While his celebrity status has partly contributed to these brands’ success, there are other lessons marketers can learn from how he runs his campaigns.
We all know Ryan Reynolds as a movie star who gave us superhit movies such as Deadpool 1 and 2. We may also know him as the co-owner of two popular brands: Mint Mobile and Aviation American Gin, the latter recently bought by Diageo. He owns Maximum Effort, an ad agency based out of California. But did you know that he is also a marketing genius? In the 2019 Content Marketing AwardsOpens a new window , he was a finalist in the â€˜B2C Content Marketer of the Year’ category. What makes him a great marketer? He is the brain and the mind behind some of the most successful ads for his brands. And to top it, he is relatively new to marketing.
So, what can marketers learn from Ryan Reynolds? Here are five marketing lessons.
1. Be Authentic and Consistent in Your Communication
In times when customer trust in brands is declining fast, being authentic in your communication goes a long way in building that trust. Most marketing and advertising campaigns today create hype around a product or service. However, people have developed dislikes for products and brands with hype; they expect a brand to provide genuine information about the product or service. They want to buy from brands they can relate to and feel comfortable with.
When a brand uses authenticity in its marketing campaigns, it attracts more customers, loyal patrons, and achieves more sales. It gives a sense to people that the brand stands for something bigger than sales and profits.
Ryan Reynolds uses authenticity beautifully in his campaigns. For example, Reynolds is a person with a genuinely funny side. His Deadpool character can be considered an extended version of him, only with a few superpowers. While he is funny, he is also authentically a humble person, both on and off the screen. Reynolds makes sure that he brings both these characters alive in his ad campaigns and communications. For example, here is an ad of Mint Mobile he posted on his Twitter handle.
â€” Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) September 9, 2020Opens a new window
Here is how he set up one of his email auto-responsesOpens a new window during his first month at Aviation Gin.
â€œThank you for your email and interest in Aviation American Gin! I’m away from my desk at the moment but will respond the moment they give me a desk. â€¦ I don’t know whose idea it was to allow me into the gin business, but I can assure you, there are smarter, more reasonable people in charge.â€
Reynolds’ authenticity on and off the screen can compel even a few non-drinkers to develop a liking for him and the drink.
2. Add Humor To Your Content
Many marketers are so busy churning out marketing campaigns today that they forget to add a bit of humor in them. Some of the most memorable campaigns include a hint of humor. According to Dr. James BarryOpens a new window , a humorist, and professor at Nova Southeastern University, using humor in marketing content has a huge potential for both B2B and B2C companies alike. If brands use humor the right way, it can help you connect with your audience, engage them better, and build a strong and meaningful relationship with them. However, having the wrong humor strategy may backfire. People may laugh but miss the entire point of the campaign. Worse, they may even find your campaign completely offensive, which may hurt your reputation.
Reynolds brings his natural comic sense to his campaigns. Here’s how Reynolds and Hugh Jackman leveraged their friendly social media feud to promote each other’s brands.
In fact, the campaigns surrounding both Aviation Gin and Mint Mobile are laden with humor. In a videoOpens a new window , Reynolds said,
â€œI take my responsibilities as owner of Aviation Gin seriously. This does not extend to our marketing, however, which I take as un-seriously as humanly possible.â€
Including humor in your campaigns may be a risky endeavor but worth the effort.
3. Think Like a Customer
Aviation American Gin was founded as a boutique brand in 2006. Reynolds tasted the drink for the first time in 2015 when he was shooting for Deadpool 1. After trying the gin, Reynolds fell in love with it. Only then did he decide to buy a stake in the brand and became its co-owner in 2018. Ryan believes that the same way he likes the drink, others, too, would like it. Hence, it becomes easier for him to market it.
It reinforces the fact that to become a successful marketer, you should think like your customer first. You should know what your customers want. It is important to understand their needs and what they are trying to communicate. It is easy to assume what your customers’ pain points are but, you should get the answers from them. Only once you understand what their challenges are, it becomes easy to position and market your solutions.
Further, it is necessary that your product indeed solves the problem or meets the customer’s needs. Reynolds says that his reputation alone would not be sufficient to market Aviation Gin. Sure, it would help market the drink the first time. But the drink should be good enough to sell itself afterwards.
4. You Do Not Need Celebrity Endorsements
There is no doubt that Ryan Reynolds is a movie star and celebrity today after giving us Hollywood blockbusters like Deadpool 1 and 2.Â Reynolds, too, acknowledges that his celebrity status and millions of followers on Instagram give his brands a boost. However, he believes that his popularity is due to his modesty. Reynolds says that consumers love to cheer for the â€˜little guy’ rather than a leading man with good looks and money. Reynolds has proven this in recent times. While his initial campaigns had him in the spotlight, he has slowly started taking a backseat in his recent marketing and advertising campaigns.
The growing aversion toward celebrity endorsements reinforces the fact that you do not need a celebrity. According to a 2018 survey reportOpens a new window by ExpertVoice, celebrity endorsements may help create product awareness but do little to boost sales. About 83% of the survey respondents said that they do not trust product recommendations by celebrities. People today know that most celebrities who endorse products are not real users; they do it because they get paid. Consumers want celebrities who promote brands to have a closer emotional connection to them. They can quickly gauge whether a celebrity is genuinely passionate about the brand or limits himself/herself to lip service. People are more likely to listen to their guides or coworkers who are genuine users of a brand.
5. Minimum Bureaucracy Is Good for Creativity and Fast Turnarounds
Reynolds’ company is known to be quick in using the current trends to promote his brands. For example, Reynolds cleverly used the controversial Peloton bike ad to promote his brand. While Peloton was busy controlling damage caused by its ad, Reynolds created a brilliant spoof using the same lead model, Monica Ruiz, within 75 hours, making it one of the best ads in 2019.
As he claims, â€œI can turn something around in 36 hours that another company would take weeks to figure out.â€ Reynolds attributes this quick turnaround to the minimal corporate structure and hierarchy his company has. Reynolds’ office is small and has a few marketers. The company further has an informal culture. This lack of a corporate ladder and bureaucracy removes the need for going back-and-forth for approvals. It gives his marketers the much-needed freedom to work on ideas and execute campaigns within a short duration.
What Can Marketers Take Home?
The most prominent thing about Reynolds is that he brings with himself his authenticity, charm, wit, and a non-celebrity image to his campaigns. Further, he is consistent throughout his communication, both on and off the screen. Reynolds’ role as a business owner, his movie characters, and his celebrity image are not much different from each other. To add to these aspects, Reynolds is a true believer in connecting with people on a personal level. He believes that relatable stories sell better than creating hype around a product or service. These are a few lessons marketers and organizations can imbibe while promoting their products or services.