Ottawa Public Health scores a Twitter coup by landing Ryan Reynolds

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Canada’s Favourite Marketer™ Ryan Reynolds, but the popular Hollywood star popped up in the unlikeliest of places this morning: the Twitter feed of Ottawa Public Health.

In a one minute and 22-second video, Reynolds introduces himself as “Bruce,” the intern who “botched” the agency’s memorable Super Bowl tweet last month by forgetting to insert the winning team’s name and logo prior to publishing.

It was an inspired (and entirely plausible) piece of communications that went viral and led to coverage by media outlets including the former (as of this week) Huffington Post Canada and Global News, not to mention a glowing profile of the organization’s social media lead, Kevin Parent, in Maclean’s.

Ottawa Public Health subsequently revealed that the tweet was actually about combating misinformation, something health agencies have been grappling with throughout the pandemic.

Government accounts aren’t typically where Twitter users go to be charmed or entertained, but Ottawa Public Health’s Twitter feed manages to convey vital public information with a touch of wit and sincerity (characterized by tweets like this and this), an approach that has helped it amass more than 114,000 followers.

While the organization said it could not accommodate interview requests, it did issue a lengthy statement to The Message saying that Reynolds contacted the organization’s social media team this week to compliment them on their work. “You are very good at your job,” he reportedly told them. The organization thanked him, and proposed the idea for what became the Bruce video.

In his familiar self-deprecating style (“most of you may know me from that episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch” he says early in the video) Reynolds admitted that he is actually Bruce. “[Y]es, I occasionally tweet from Ottawa Public Health,” he says at the start of the video. “Why? Everybody does.”

Reynolds goes on to explain that he just forgot to update the Super Bowl tweet because he’s been so busy, and while there’s nothing he can do about it now, there is something else that he (and others) can do. The video then shows a series of COVID-19 safety reminders about washing your hands, wearing a mask, etc.

The Hollywood A-lister has loaned his star power to other non-profits over the years, most notably appearing in the SickKids Foundation’s holiday marketing efforts. He’s also starred in several well-received ads for his Aviation Gin and Mint Mobile brands, while his creative agency Maximum Effort has produced acclaimed work for brands including

Reynolds has reportedly been following Ottawa Public Health’s Twitter account since January 2020, and the two have had a few interactions over the past year, including this bit of back-and-forth in April. “We were, to say the least, delighted when Mr. Reynolds agreed to participate,” said the statement, before adopting the arch style that has made it so popular.

“Ottawa Public Health is pleased to support up-and-coming Canadian artists, and we appreciate that Mr. Reynolds took the time out of his busy schedule to help us share this important public health message.”

Chris Powell