March 17, 2023
Ryan Reynolds used his celebrity and wit to build Mint Mobile into a low-cost competitor in the crowded wireless business. Now, the Hollywood star and his backers are cashing in—selling the upstart brand to T-Mobile US in a cash and stock deal valued at up to $1.35 billion, reports The Wall Street Journal.
Reynolds owns roughly 25% of Mint Mobile, according to people familiar with the matter. That means he stands to personally receive more than $300 million in cash and stock from the transaction.
Reynolds was the personality in the company’s ads, both on television and social media. The ads, such as a recent one during which he read ad copy written for him by Chat GPT, also showcased his own advertising agency.
Following the planned takeover, T-Mobile said the “Deadpool” star would stay on in a creative capacity and the company would keep the Mint Mobile brand. Reynolds will continue to appear in Mint Mobile’s ads.
He posted a video on Twitter on Wednesday joking along with T-Mobile’s chief executive. “T-Mobile has assured me that our incredibly improvised and borderline reckless messaging strategy will also remain untouched,” Reynolds said in the video, which ends with the two men hugging.
Reynolds is heavily involved in the advertising business, helping his own and other brands create attention-getting campaigns. He is chief creative officer at advertising technology company MNTN and co-founder of production and marketing firm Maximum Effort, which MNTN bought in 2021.
Maximum Effort expanded into marketing after Reynolds became an investor in Aviation American Gin and Mint Mobile. Reynolds purchased an undisclosed stake in Aviation American Gin in 2018 and a stake in Mint Mobile in 2019. Diageo bought Aviation American Gin as part of a deal worth up to $610 million in 2020. Reynolds kept an ownership interest.
He has appeared in and created ads for both brands. Maximum Effort also has created ads for a range of companies including Autodesk., Peloton Interactive, and Match Group. Reynolds described its approach as “fastvertising”—seeking to create viral ads at the speed of what people are talking about.
During the Cannes Lion Festival of Creativity, the actor and entrepreneur spoke at Journal House about his recent creative agency merger, his venture into football club ownership and how creativity has been impacted by the pandemic.
“Everything we do is scrappy. It’s fast, it’s inexpensive, character over spectacle,” he said in a WSJ Magazine interview.
T-Mobile, which used to market itself as the upstart to AT&T and Verizon Communications, is now the second-biggest U.S. operator by subscribers and battling for growth in a mature wireless industry. T-Mobile took over Sprint in 2020 in a deal valued at more than $30 billion.
Mint Mobile resells service using T-Mobile’s network, so the deal will save costs but doesn’t bring new customers to T-Mobile. The companies didn’t disclose how many customers Mint Mobile has.
“Over the long term, we’ll also benefit from applying the marketing formula Mint has become famous for across more parts of T-Mobile,” T-Mobile Chief Executive Mike Sievert said.
Research contact: @WSJ