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Not Just A Pretty Billion-Dollar Face

How To Steal Ryan Reynolds' Advertising Genius For Yourself

👋 Hello fellow Ladderers!

Welcome to our new sign-ups this week. This week we’re taking a look at certain billion-dollar advertising playbook, from a certain billionaire Hollywood actor.

If you missed last week’s deep-dive into Blooms Taxonomy and how to go from Novice to Nobel Prize winner, you can catch-up here

I hope you enjoy.

When I find myself in times of trouble,

Two of the greatest adversaries to creativity is too much time and too much money.

Ryan Reynolds

⏱️ ~ 5 minutes 42 seconds read

Making ads sucks.

Don’t get me wrong, it can be fun in fleeting moments and there’s a wonderful tingle when your spot comes up with the family gathered around the TV.

But on the whole, from the moment you identify the need for the campaign, all the way through to shushing your 5 year old in the middle of a MasterChef ad-break; it’s mostly months and months of pure pain.

Months to convince others of the need, secure a budget, brief an agency, concepts, decisions, buy-in, more briefs, talent, more budget, media planning, securing rights, contracts, sign-off, legal, locations, shoots, post-production, edits, measurement, the CEO’s “thoughts”.... It’s a nightmare.

Months of hell.

And then, no one cares.

All of that thought and craft. The dazzling finessing of audio and breath-taking visual edits.

Your one minute brand opus.

Lands with a thud and small impotent puff of dust.

Ah, but you have a back-up, an ace up the sleeve: Social cut-downs!

Surely it’s just that it’s that little bit too long. The cut-down 5’s, 10’s, 15’s and 30’s will smash it, especially on social media where you might pick up some of that amazing “virality”. Surely.

OK sure - it took another week or so to get the various edits just right - but it’ll be worth it for that sweet, sweet traction on social.

And then… nothing 🦗 

Well, nothing beyond what you would expect by literally forcing your way into everyone's feeds with brute budget strength.


There’s two fundamental misconceptions you’ve fallen prey to here:

  1. The outcome is not correlated to the input when it comes to advertising. Months of pulling teeth pain, getting buy-in, approvals, sweating over talent, locations, stretching your budget etc. - none of that matters when it comes to the consumer laying on their couch, barely able to keep their eyes open with a bag of chips on their chest.

  2. Grand TVC ideas rarely transpose well to social media. No matter how much you put into the edits, a social first idea will almost always trump something that is simply cut-down from a TVC. This is even more acutely felt if it’s not humorous.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. There’s actually another proven approach that’s emerged in the last half-decade.

One that shows us we can do things differently - with pace, with agility, with fun.

And importantly with small budgets and plenty of upside when done right.

Welcome to Fastvertising.


Fastvertising is a very recent advertising strategy that emphasises speed and responsiveness to cultural or social events.

It involves quickly creating and deploying creative (and generally humorous) advertising that is acutely relevant to current trends or discussions.

It aims to capitalise on the fleeting nature of consumer and media attention, allowing brands to “newsjack” and cut-though memorably while a topic is still top of mind and win oodles of earned media attention in the process.

Especially on social media - where a canny take on a hot topic can win you insane amounts of free attention.

Prior to late 2019, almost no one had even heard of Fastvertising as a concept - that is until Deadpool himself, Ryan Reynolds and his agency, Maximum Effort, pulled a masterpiece with Aviation Gin.

In late 2019, Peloton released a holiday ad that sparked huge controversy. The commercial, which showed an already very slim woman receiving a Peloton bike from her husband and then documenting her fitness journey in vlog-style entries.

Amidst the backdrop of the Me Too movement, the ad was seen as sexist and way out of touch.

The backlash was immediate and intense, with Twitter literally ablaze with rage toward the brand.

Within just 72 hours of the Peloton ad airing, Reynolds' team conceptualised, produced, and released a sequel ad featuring the same actress. This time getting together with her friends at a bar, essentially commiserating her apparent break-up with the husband and enjoying/ chugging a gin.

Aviator Gin to be precise.

No media booked, just a simple tweet of the video from Reynolds account with the caption “Exercise bike not included”.

The ad was 100% pitch perfect.

And it quickly went viral, garnering over 10M video views on Twitter, 6M+ views on Aviation’s YouTube channel and more than 13 billion media impressions overall.


The success of this campaign showcased the potential of Fastvertising to create impactful, timely marketing that resonates with the audience while cleverly capitalising on current events.

Reynolds' blend of celebrity influence, strategic agility, and a knack for tapping into the cultural zeitgeist has made Fastvertising a recent notable trend in marketing.

But you don’t need to be a Hollywood actor to make this happen.

Sure, the initial tweet came from Reynolds account with 16M followers, but the ad itself did not include him in it, it was the idea and the timeliness that made this ad fire.

Let’s take a look at the essence of what makes Fastvertising work and how you can bring some of that into the way you think about advertising your brand.


If you have a brand that isn’t allergic to humour, Fastvertising is a very attractive proposition.

  1. Low Cost: Quite simply, the bigger the budget the slower the work. Sure, Reynolds would have had quite a few pennies to grab that actor from the Peloton spot, but compared to traditional advertising campaigns, which often require significant resources and long lead times - this would have been a tiny fraction of the cost of the original Peloton ad.

  2. Differentiation: By being quick to market with messages that are immediately relevant and have a sharp social commentary, brands can differentiate themselves from competitors who might not be as quick to respond to market or cultural shifts.

  3. Viral Potential: The whole idea of Fastvertising is to create advertising that has the potential to go viral, maximising reach and impact through organic sharing and social media engagement and therefore minimising the need for expensive and slow turn-around media purchasing.

  4. Relevancy in Real-Time: By reacting swiftly to current events, trends, or social conversations, Fastvertising can help brands develop a cultural relevance that may have been unattainable (or at least extremely expensive to obtain) otherwise.

  5. Cost-Effectiveness: Combining the low-budget with the potential high-reward of virality and earned media makes for a pretty attractive ROI when it comes to Fastvertising. But it also means that misses don’t hurt as much and there’s a lesson that’s a bit easier to swallow if it doesn’t take over twitter within 24 hours.

Starting to look like a good idea isn’t it?

Well there are a few bear traps to be weary of.


Moving at breakneck speed alongside culture with wit and confidence, certainly comes with its own set of risks that need careful consideration. Here are some factors you should be cautious of if you intend to employ Fastvertising:

  1. Relevance and Sensitivity: Brands must ensure that their content is not only relevant but also sensitive to current events and public sentiment. Misjudging the mood or misinterpreting a trend can get you seriously dunked on when it comes to social media, and mainstream media loves to echo that backlash. The benefits listed above can be the very thing that damages the brand's reputation if you’re not careful.

  2. Brand Alignment: Any Fastvertising effort should be in line with the brand’s core values and identity. It doesn’t need to be a bullseye - but a message that feels forced or way off-brand can confuse, create a pile on and dilute brand equity.

  3. Quality Control: The rapid nature of Fastvertising means bypassing the usual checks and balances in advertising, which can mean lower quality or error-prone content. It's crucial to maintain a high standard of quality to avoid the pitfalls of rushed work. Here’s where the savings from other parts of the budget can be best deployed. Lot’s of checks, by lots of people - but quickly.

  4. Legal Considerations: Fast-paced content creation can sometimes overlook legal guidelines, such as copyright and trademark laws. Ensure you have lightning fast support and pass-throughs with legal, to comply with all regulations and avoid legal troubles.

By paying attention to these watch-outs, although there’s certainly no guarantees, you can more effectively manage the risks associated with Fastvertising and still see the upside it offers.


So now it’s over to you to think about how you might bring a little Deadpool magic to your own brand. Here’s a list of action items you can follow to develop the alignment, get buy-in, execute and measure your own version of Fastvertising.

  1. Executive Presentation: Develop and deliver a detailed presentation to senior leadership detailing the concept of Fastvertising, its benefits, and examples of successful implementations to secure their buy-in and necessary budgets. Feel free to swipe as much as you need from this here article 😉

  2. Budget Allocation: Propose a flexible budget specifically for Fastvertising campaigns, allowing for quick allocation of resources when timely opportunities arise. Make sure you have a really clear view of what it takes to produce video content specifically, including approaches to locations and talent.

  3. Cross-Functional Rapid Response Team: Form a small, agile team with members from marketing, creative, legal, and digital departments to respond swiftly to opportunities.

  4. Protocols and Guidelines: Create fast-response execution protocols and creative guidelines to ensure opportunities quickly move from an idea through to fully executed with minimal back-and-forth. Importantly all content is on-brand, meets quality standards, and complies with legal requirements even under tight deadlines.

  5. Real-Time Monitoring Processes: Ensure you have your social media and news trend monitoring tools in place for spotting real-time opportunities which could be effectively exploited. Furthermore ensure you have the group communications in place (slack, whatsapp etc.) to converge ideas and move fast.

  6. Reviews: Schedule regular reviews to discuss the outcomes of an Fastvertising efforts, reflect on speed to market, alignment to brand, the response from the community and media and adjust strategies/ processes as necessary, and ensure ongoing support and funding.

By systematically working through these steps, you can carefully bring your leadership across the opportunity, and put in place the budget and the processes so you can jump onto your very own “peloton” moment. Even if you don’t have the billion dollar smile of Ryan Reynolds.

That’s it for today, I hope you’ve enjoyed this dive into Fastvertising and the opportunity it presents for brands.

  • Do you have a brand that Fastvertising could work for?

  • What kind of a budget do you think would be enough to quickly move with a guerilla video?

  • Are you thinking this is mostly BS, and it’s all down to the gravity of celebrity?

Hit reply, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

If you enjoyed this edition, please forward it to a friend who’s looking to level-up their advertising and marketing game - they’ll love you for it (and I will too) ⏭️ 💌

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