Ryan Reynolds is bored by Auston Matthews in SickKids fundraiser

As one of Hollywood’s best-known stars, Ryan Reynolds has grown accustomed to seeing his name in lights. But the Canadian marketing whizz and occasional actor has taken the idea to a bold new level in this year’s holiday campaign for Toronto’s SickKids hospital.

As part of Reynolds’ festive holiday sweater campaign, SickKids has replaced the holiday train lights that have lit up the exterior of SickKids’ facade on Toronto’s University Avenue for decades with a likeness of Reynolds’ spectacularly garish Christmas sweater made up of 5,000 LED lights.

Last year’s festive campaign raised more than $315,000 for SickKids in just four days. This year’s campaign is running through Dec. 24, with SickKids’ longtime corporate partner Samsung Canada matching all donations up to $100,000.

Reynolds has been an active, hands-on supporter of the hospital for several years now. “It is a completely direct relationship we have with him, we don’t go through people or anything like that,” then vice-president of brand strategy Lori Davison told The Message last year.

To help generate awareness for the giant sweater in lights, Reynolds produced a video in which he talks about their ideas for his ugly sweater this year. “We wanted to do something huge to show how much we love our kids,” he said, noting that one of the considerations was an army of ugly sweater-wearing puppies. “But they were way too hard to train.”

Then they asked NHL star Auston Matthews to do something “super cool.” Cut to Matthews, on ice and wearing the ugly sweater, eager to show Reynolds something cool, but then quickly back to Reynolds. “But it was so boring, wasn’t it,” he says to one of the cute, untrainable puppies. “So instead we decided to wrap the entire hospital with a sweater made of lights.”

The video directs viewers to the dedicated FundTheFight.ca site where people can make donations online.

Chris Powell