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'It's kind of the perfect time': Ryan Reynolds details Mint Mobile's counterintuitive inflation play

·Senior Reporter
·5 min read

Telecom company Mint Mobile is cutting rates, and Ryan Reynolds is here to tell you why: "Because we don’t hate you.”

Yes, that Ryan Reynolds. On top of his other investments and movie-star-related activities, Reynolds is an owner of Mint, a mobile virtual network operator that he first invested in back in 2019. Though Mint doesn't disclose the size of its user base or Reynolds's stake, the company says it has more than doubled in size annually since it was founded five years ago.

In recent years, Mint's become known for its humorous, deft commercials, and counterintuitive promotions, including a current campaign. Until July 5, Mint is dropping the price of all its plans to $15 a month for the first three months. From there, even an unlimited plan only costs $30 a month. It's a "deflation" campaign that's in direct response to both major wireless companies' rate hikes and the inflation crisis rattling consumers. Most major wireless carriers' plans start at at least $60 a month, and it's a good time to offer consumers a discount — according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, inflation last month was at its highest since 1981.

"This is the exact reason I became an owner of this company," Reynolds said. "It's a company that thinks different and pivots when it needs to. I've just never quite understood how, when wireless is an essential service, why you'd pay $100 a month for something when you could get the exact same thing for $15 a month."

'Quite literally the business model of Mint'

Mint operates with far less overhead than the top three wireless providers — T-Mobile (TMUS), AT&T (T), and Verizon (VZ) — and that's what makes this kind of price cut possible, said Reynolds.

"That's quite literally the business model of Mint," he said. "There's no brick-and-mortar, and it's a company that's largely pioneered the DTC online wireless category. We've built a business that really, truly scales so much more efficiently than your traditional brick-and-mortars. That's the special sauce. Instead of keeping those inefficiencies, we're passing them on, right back to the customer, in the form of crazy low prices. And I think right now, the world we're living in, economically speaking, it's kind of the perfect time for people to discover what Mint has to offer."

Actor Ryan Reynolds attends a conference at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in Cannes, France, June 22, 2022.    REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
Actor Ryan Reynolds attends a conference at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in Cannes, France, June 22, 2022. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Mint's service is consistently well-reviewed by customers who are enthusiastic about the value the company offers, though they say that the service is sometimes de-prioritized — meaning data speeds are slowed down. Mint recently added family plans to its repertoire.

Reynolds, 45, is a Canadian actor and producer who's known for, among other things, starring in "Deadpool," "Adventureland," "Ted," and a number of iconic rom-coms including "Definitely, Maybe" and "The Proposal." His business ventures date back nearly half a decade.

The secret to Reynolds' viral ad campaigns

Mint has become especially known for its pithy, indelible marketing, as has, to an extent, Reynolds himself.

"We sort of circle the wagons around character over spectacle," he said. "So we're creating moments that are memorable, but we're creating them on a platform that's scrappy, fast, and inexpensive."

Reynolds' approach to advertising is warm, irreverent, and direct. In one of the ads for Mint's current "deflation" campaign, Reynolds spends 20-something seconds talking about Mint's efforts to provide rate-relief to customers, then signs off with footage of an angry goat. On occasion, Reynolds and Mint have eschewed the traditional commercial approach entirely. In 2020, for example, Mint didn't run a Super Bowl commercial, opting instead to take out a full-page ad in The New York Times: “I love ads. Except when they cost $5 million for 30 seconds,” Reynolds said in a statement at the time. Instead, Mint gave away free service at kickoff.

Mint's rise has coincided with the ascension of Maximum Effort, a film production company and marketing agency that Reynolds co-founded with George Dewey after the pair worked on "Deadpool" together.

"We talk about this thing called 'fastvertising' at Maximum Effort, and that's a big part of what we do," he said. "It's when we're acknowledging and jumping into a cultural conversation. Sometimes, within 36 hours of that conversation starting, we've already ideated, written, shot, and edited a commercial and it's out. That's something I take great pride in. I'm not saying that's the norm and that every marketing company should be working that way, but it's something we love to do."

Ultimately, that sort of good-to-go quality and responsiveness translates to Reynolds' take on investing. In addition to Mint, Reynolds has a host of other investments, including in online investment management company Wealthsimple and Welsh football club Wrexham AFC. He also retains a stake in Aviation Gin, which was acquired by Diageo in 2020 — making his mark in a grand tradition of stars who own alcohol brands. It's a group that also includes George Clooney, Kendall Jenner, and Mark Wahlberg.

"I buy into companies that are already perfect," he said. "Mint Mobile was already perfect when I got there... I do not make gin, thank God, because the company wouldn't have done nearly as well as it's been doing. So, Aviation Gin was already perfect. When I got there, I loved the product, I used the product, and it was part of my life... For me, the story has been pretty authentic as far as these kinds of things."

Allie Garfinkle is a senior tech reporter at Yahoo Finance. Find her on twitter @agarfinks.

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