For years, celebrities have invested their own money into the brands they represent, or taken on creative director duties, hoping to cash in on some of the cachet and equity they themselves helped to create. But some stars go a step further.
Welcome to the age of the celebrity agency, owned—and operated—by famous faces looking for even more input in the creative process. Just a few weeks ago Ryan Reynolds sold Maximum Effort, the shop he founded in 2018, to ad tech firm MNTN. Far from vanity projects, these agencies—often side-hustles for globe-trotting multimillionaires—let them get their hands on the work in ways that being in front of the camera can’t provide.
“For talent, creating an agency gives them an outlet to explore and test creative ideas that they have. They are usually the employee in Hollywood, as opposed to the employer. They show up, do their job and leave,” says Brian Salzman, founder and CEO at relationship marketing agency RQ. “This strategy of owning an agency enables them to change that dynamic, while giving another revenue stream.”
It’s paid off for Reynolds, whose agency is responsible for some of the best ads of the last two years. He wrote and edited the 2019 “Peloton Wife” spot over a flurry of text messages with co-founder George Dewey, a process they continued in 2020’s hellish “Love Story” for Match, which paired Satan with the worst year on record.