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How Squarespace Went To The Super Bowl With “Mysterious, Humble Guy” Keanu Reeves

Chief creative officer David Lee explains how they tapped into the star’s charisma and sense of humor to make a splash on game night.

How Squarespace Went To The Super Bowl With “Mysterious, Humble Guy” Keanu Reeves
[Photo: courtesy of Squarespace]

“You are an important person. A unique creature. There has never been anyone just like you. And never will be. The power to do anything you can imagine is within you when you discover your real self. Make it happen…”

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These are the words to Will Powers’s 1983 track “Adventures in Success,” but here in 2018, it’s being recited by Keanu Reeves as he stands atop a motorcycle speeding down a desert road. It’s funny, oddly soothing, and inspiring. And it was Squarespace’s Super Bowl ad.

Reeves has been a Squarespace customer since 2015, using the platform to design a site for his custom motorcycle brand Arch Motorcycle. Much like for John Malkovich before him, Squarespace created a campaign that presents Reeves as the legitimate customer he is and then uses that as the foundation for an utterly charming, feel-good campaign.

Squarespace chief creative officer David Lee says they always trying to find people who have a bit of mystery, a bit of quirkiness. “Obviously it’s also important for someone with brand equity, but we also look for unique personalities. Despite the fact that Keanu’s, on one hand, the very definition of a movie star, he’s also a mysterious, very humble guy. He can come off as a very serious person, but he’s got a fantastic sense of humor. What we tried to do is pick and choose how to balance the mystery, the action star charisma, with the self-awareness and humor.”

The first quarter of the year is perhaps the most important for Squarespace. It’s a time when people are reevaluating, starting new hobbies, embarking on new careers, and a lot of these fresh starts require a website. “It’s an amazing opportunity for our brand to put out a message that’s quite uplifting and aspirational,” says Lee. “So we wanted to put a stake in the ground and really embrace this ‘Make It’ brand platform and find someone who’d be a great brand ambassador to do that on the world’s biggest ad stage.”

The brand altered its Super Bowl campaign strategy a bit this year in that it used the ad teasers to do the heavy lifting of explaining Reeves’ connection to the Square Space and his own small business story. “That gives us a bit more creative freedom for the in-game commercial,” says Lee. “Ultimately what we want to communicate is that we believe anyone has the ability to do what they want, and they can make it happen with Squarespace. So we wanted to use a witty, poetic brand spot to do that, something that people will want to watch over and over again.” 

About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.

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