In the last decade, celebrity interest and investments in technology companies have increased significantly. But not all celebrity investments are created equal. Some investors, cume Ashton Kutcher, have given priority to VC research. Some have invested casually without committing themselves excessively. Others have used their considerable platforms to market their portfolio to varying degrees of success.
It’s been a little over a year since then Ryan Reynolds I bought one majority participation in Mint Mobile, an agreement that has already had a dramatic impact on the MVNO (mobile virtual network operator).
The four-year-old company has seen tremendous growth, increasing revenues by nearly 50,000% in the last three years. However, the D2C wireless carrier has seen its highest traffic days on the screen of Reynolds initiatives and marketing announcements.
There is a long history of celebrities getting involved with brands, either as brand ambassadors or ‘Creative Directors’ with little value other than the initial wave of print.
Lenovo has become famous Ashton Kutcher as product engineer to help you develop the Yoga 2 tablet, on which I assume you are all reading this post. Alicia Keys was introduced as BlackBerry’s Global Creative Director, which felt even more complicated in a partnership than Lady Gaga’s stint as creative director of Polaroid. This is not to say that these advertising stunts necessarily harm brands or products (most of the time), but they probably didn’t help much, and they probably cost a fortune.
And there are real financial investments, in areas where celebrities basically understand the industry, that aren’t even going to “alpha”.
Even Jay-Z struggled to make one music streaming service success. Justin Bieber has never really had one selfie app out of the ground. Heck, not even Justin Timberlake could breathe life into MySpace. Reynolds apparently has an even heavier elevator here. It’s hard to imagine a less sexy English word string than “mobile virtual network operator”.
Reynolds tells TechCrunch that he saw celebrity investments as a sort of “handicap,” prior to Mint’s acquisition.
“I’ve just seen how most celebrities behave very, very well,” she explains. “We’re usually stuck or rethinking or investing in luxury and aspiring items and projects. After George and I had a conversation about a year and a half ago, maybe more, about what would happen if we turned the other way? And if he got into something that was hyper practical and just forgot about sexy aspiration things. “
The mint is not Reynolds ’first entrepreneurial venture. It bought a majority stake in Portland-based Aviation Gin in 2018, which was recently sold for $ 610 million. He also co-founded marketing agency Maximum Effort alongside George Dewey, which has made its own impact in recent years.
Maximum Effort was founded to help promote the first actor Deadpool film. Reynolds and Dewey had several places close by to make people enthusiastic about an R-rated comic book film. The offer seems to have worked. The film earned $ 783.1 million at the box office – a record for an R-rated film that held until the 2019 release of Joker.
Maximum Effort (and Reynolds) was also behind the viral Aviation Gin spot, which pleased Peloton’s manipulative announcement that was aired last year around the holidays. The same actress who portrayed a woman apparently tortured by her Peloton holiday gift is in a bar with her friends, shocked, drinking a Martini.
U original ad on YouTube, not counting the recirculation by the media, has more than 7 million hits. Reynolds called it ‘fast-vertising’.
“We’re going to react,” he told TechCrunch. “We have to recognize and play with the cultural landscape in real time and react to it in real time. There is no bureaucracy to go through, so it’s just a matter of signing the approval. So in a way, it’s unfair, in that sense, because most big corporations, it takes weeks and weeks or months to get something approved. Our budgets are low and ugly, fast and good. “
He explained that this type of real-time marketing is possible only because he is the owner of the Maximum Effort (and in some cases the client company, too), but because there is no bureaucracy to cut when a great idea comes up. .
Reynolds brought this marketing hype Mint Mobile in a big way. Last year during the Super Bowl, Reynolds made a full-page announcement In the New York Times, explaining that the decision to spend $ 125,000 on print advertising instead of $ 5 million + on Super Bowl advertising would allow the prepaid carrier to pass on the savings to consumers.
In October, Reynolds made the 5G launch of Mint in another bright spot. He led the head of mobile technology to explain what 5G really is, and after listening to the technical explanation, he happily said “We may never know, so we’ll give it away just for free”.
Mint has also released a holiday announcement Just a couple of weeks ago we announced the wireless promotion season, where large wireless operators may try to lure customers into expensive contracts with new devices. Standing on a bear trap, Reynolds says dryly, “At Mint Mobile, we don’t hate you.”
Reynolds almost enjoys it 17 million Twitter followers is more than 36 million Instagram followers. He uses both platforms to promote his various brands without alienating his followers. Also, it’s not only promote her brands on social media, but intrude in her own funny personal commentary or give followers a look at her marriage to Blake Lively, which we can all agree on is #relationshipgoals.
Mint Mobile partners exclusively with T-Mobile to provide the service, and unlike any other MVNO, uses a direct-to-consumer model, waiving all physical imprints. Plans start at $ 15 / month and end at $ 30 / month. CMO Aron North says Reynolds ’ownership and involvement with Mint Mobile is“ absolutely critical ”.
“Ryan is an A plus plus celebrity, and he’s a lot of fun and entertaining and engaging,” North said. “His reach has given us a much bigger platform to speak to. I say he is absolutely critical in our success and our growth.”
We asked Reynolds if he has any specific plans for further technology investment, or if there are any trends to keep an eye on. He explained that his motivations are not purely capitalist.
“I’m really focused on the community and bringing people together,” Reynolds said. “We think it’s super cool to bring people together, especially in a world that’s very divisive. Even in our marketing, we try to find ways to have huge cultural moments without polarizing people without dividing people without saying something. it doesn’t work. “
In one of the company’s most recent commercials, Reynolds enlisted the help of iconic comedian, Rick Moranis. It was an impressive shot, given the actor’s apparent portrayal from the public eye, refusing two separate remakes of the film Ghostbusters.
“It’s funny what happens when you just ask,” Reynolds says. “I explained that people really missed him, his performance and his energy. And he, for whatever reason, said yes, and the next thing I know, six days later, we were out of here in 15, 20 minutes. and we pulled out our seat. ”
Of course, it didn’t escape the Internet’s notice that two well-known Canadian players were staying in a camp, selling a wireless service only in the United States.
“I’d like to see it [Mint] in Canada, ”says Reynolds.“ There’s a Big Three here that is challenging to crack. It does not pretend to know well the activities of telecommunications to say why, how or what would be the way forward. I see in the background a tsunami of feedback from Canada, asking “why can’t we have this here?” I think she’s sexy. She is pragmatic and sexy. That’s why I’m committed to it. ”