Last month at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, Hollywood superstar turned adman sat down with Dentsu International’s Global CEO Wendy Clark to talk “next generation storytelling”, bringing his recent experience as chief creative officer of MNTN/Maximum Effort to bear, as well as his A-list celebrity status and effortless charm. 

Ryan’s insightful speech shared the insights he’s gained in creativity since the film production company and digital marketing agency was born in 2018. He highlighted the importance of speed, noting that the key to what MNTN/Maximum Effort does is add a production element to the responsive fun people have all over the world on social platforms.

“Ads should be fun!” he insisted, noting the gloom of the 2020s in “these unprecedented times” style campaigns. “Humour and emotion are the things that travel the most virally,” he said. One source of humour being the tactic he loves of stripping the artifice away, admitting that an ad is an ad and playing with that assumption. “We are very clear that this is marketing,” he added.

He also shared how producing Deadpool taught him so many lessons in that it took more time and less budget than he expected.

He took his “sweet Deadpool money” to set up Aviator gin. And then they had to market it. So he got into advertising. And years on, he’s a serious player on the ad landscape and the clients continue to roll in.

The speed, humour and honesty of social platforms is a huge inspiration for Ryan. “I will look down at TikTok and I will look up at it, and it’s suddenly the next Olympics,” he joked. But he also appreciates the beautiful craft of content like Pixar’s films.

Speaking of the human behind the creative act, Ryan addressed the anxiety that so many of us have to different degrees. “I sometimes let mine completely swallow my life whole,” he said, adding that he has some kind of performative persona – “that guy”, who writes for MNTN/Maximum Effort, goes on talk shows and turns up on set. He admitted that he wishes he could be that guy all the time. Such realism and reliability is refreshing. 

Reynolds also revealed that half the ads he’s written with his collaborators at the agency are written over a series of text messages. He stressed the importance of trusting bad ideas and growing them into great ones. 

He ended by imploring the industry to engage with the initiative he’s founded to boost inclusivity in the industry, The Group Effort. “It’s gonna make it better for everyone,” he said. 

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