Stories for the many, not the few

With typical humour, actor and entrepreneur Ryan Reynolds tackled thoughts around next generation storytelling on Wednesday and charted his leap into the world of advertising, a world he “loves and feels privileged to be a part of”.

In 2018, Reynolds and George Dewey launched Maximum Effort, their film production company and digital marketing agency, after working on promoting the first two Deadpool films. “I then bought Aviation Gin with some of that sweet, Deadpool money and we needed to market that,” Reynolds Said. “After, I acquired a significant stake in Mint Mobile… suddenly we were a marketing firm.”


Ryan Reynolds in conversation on the Cannes Lions stage
Ryan Reynolds

Moderator Wendy Clark, global CEO of Dentsu, said that the hallmarks of Maximum Effort’s work include speed, humour, placing the product front and centre and resisting perfection.

“I love humour. Humour and emotion are the two things that travel the most virally,”

“Combining both in one is the unicorn that everyone is looking for. If you can make people laugh… you can break down the artifice of marketing.” He added: “We make sure that product we are working with is very clean and at the centre of the campaign. It tends to travel more. If I tried to hide the fact that it’s an ad, I think people would feel manipulated.”

Looking to the next generation of content and creative, Reynolds said: “I love Tik Tok – creators making things out of thin air. The idea that we are striving for perfection is insane. It’s also completely subjective.

“Also, speed is a huge part of what we do. Culture moves really fast. Those conversations which are happening on social media, those watercooler moments – if you add production to that, you take it to a whole new level.


“So many campaigns take 9 to 12 months to launch; if you are seeking cultural context you may completely miss the mark.”

Reynolds latest initiative, The Creative Ladder, supports access to creative careers for people from underrepresented communities. He concluded: “Better stories are told with complex and diverse opinions.

How can we continue to tell stories that are relevant, if they are only relevant to a few?”