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Communication in Deadpool Mode: What Advertising Can Learn from Ryan Reynolds


White Rabbit CCO Levente Kovacs believes the industry needs a bit more Reynoldsian creativity injected into it

Communication in Deadpool Mode: What Advertising Can Learn from Ryan Reynolds

Last year the colourful world of advertising was stirred up by some exciting, newsworthy events. Think of Martin Sorrell, who parted ways with WPP. Or Colin Kaepernick playing a powerful role for Nike. Then we had good ol' Zuckerberg, explaining the dark pits of his social platform in front of US Congress (at last). And don't forget ’It's a Tide Ad’, opening up a new chapter in the history of Super Bowl ads.

Of course, there were a thousand and one other curiosities as well – but now I'm going to focus on the plain fact that a Canadian actor bought a formerly unknown gin brand. The actor? Ryan Reynolds. The brand? Aviation.

At first glance, it is not a big deal, we've seen it before. Quite a few actors and celebrities have given their names to and put their money into an existing alcohol brand: George Clooney (tequila), Justin Timberlake (ditto), Matthew McConaughey (bourbon whiskey), Drew Barrymore (wine) – the list could go on.

However, Reynolds is different than his endorsement colleagues. He not only owns the Aviation brand and gives his face and name to its communication. He plays an active role in its ’everyday business’. He goes to sales meetings. He even contributes to its communication as the brand's creative director.

His character, his attitude and his humour shape and create a unique brand and personality for Aviation gin. His appearance on the advertising and marketing  stage is fresh and original. It’s just like when his Deadpool character gave a blood transfusion to comic book movies.

Well, what can the advertising and marketing industry learn from him? Okay, here comes the three basic pillars of Reynoldsian creativity:

1. Stick to your own voice

The Aviation brand is fully impregnated with Reynolds' spirit. He talks in an informal, straight-forward way. Doesn't sound like a marketing guy, giving boring product descriptions. He's not burping back any brand manifestos that agencies present clients during a pitch. He simply communicates – in an entertaining, light-hearted, human way.

His out of office replies re-defined the genre of automated e-mails. If you drop him a line (interested? Here's his email address: you'll get a personal and funny reply. This is the latest I got from him:

"Thank you for your email. I’m currently on a spiritual retreat with the distillers of Aviation Gin. I’m so honored to sit in a truth-circle with this incredibly bearded group of people. Here at Aviation, I’m constantly striving to improve company culture. We don’t believe in words like, ’CEO’ or ’Boss’. Henceforth, my colleagues will affectionately refer to me as Commander, Captain, or Commandant."

2. Use humour (if you have it)

Reynolds is a born entertainer. He knows that laughter is a powerful weapon – especially when it comes to marketing, shortening the distance between a product and a consumer. His other out of office replies are packed with sentences like these:

"Why is Aviation the best damn gin on the planet? What sets it apart from other gins on the market? Do people who ask and then answer their own questions have an above average IQ? Probably."


"I will be out of the office celebrating Canada Day (July 1st), World UFO Day (July 2nd), Tom Cruise's Birthday (July 3rd) and July 4th (July 4th.) It's also National Picnic Month so let's just reconnect in August, shall we?"

Here's the closing line from one of his other emails:

"Thank you again for your email… If the matter is urgent, please contact my secretary, Bruce, who’ll respond the moment I get a secretary named, Bruce."

As a matter of fact, Reynolds uses self-irony in a way that only a few advertising and marketing guys dare to. What's more, he embraces situations where he can demolish his own celebrity status – making a complete idiot of himself. Check out what happens when his fictitious twin brother, Gordon Reynolds, decides to interivew him.

3. Be cool and irreverent

The communication of Aviation is cool and easy-going, spiced with some healthy cheek and chutzpah. And it comes from Ryan quite naturally, without any struggle or agony. He doesn't want to measure up to anyone or anything. However, he could hit one where it hurts most – even with a nice slogan. (A slogan that evokes the spirit of Jerry Della Femina, and his disrespectful slogan idea for Panasonic: From those wonderful folks who gave you Pearl Harbour.) Anyway, Reynolds' message is not from Japan – it's from Canada. Aviation. An American original. Now owned by a Canadian.

Reynolds enjoys playing the role of a marketing/advertising guy. Articulating his own voice, being humorous and showing a cool irreverence – these three main aspects of his gin's communication are rooted in his character and attitude, that's for sure. 

But his relationship with marketing is also the result of a conscious choice. As he puts it:

"I take my responsibilities as owner of Aviation Gin seriously. This does not extend to our marketing, however, which I take as unseriously as humanly possible." 

I guess our industry could do with adopting a lot more irreverence, more fun, and more of a Reynoldsian attitude.

So in 2019 switch to Deadpool-mode and bring back the spirit of advertising!


Levente Kovacs is CCO/Founding Partner at White Rabbit Budapest  
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White Rabbit Budapest, Fri, 25 Jan 2019 11:16:01 GMT