If Jeff Bridges (AKA the Big Lebowski) produced something as odd as a recording of ambient music mixed with his smooth baritone voice mumbling about sleep, I’d listen. Enthusiastically. I’m a fan; I love weird content, and it would work for me.
Wait, what’s that you say? … He did? … You’re telling me that he created a recording of ambient music mixed with his smooth baritone voice mumbling about sleep called “Dreaming with Jeff?’
Yes, it’s true, Dreaming with Jeff happened. It’s a brilliantly weird content campaign, but more importantly, it tells an accurate, and entertaining, brand story for Squarespace.
What’s this about weird content and Jeff Bridges?
Squarespace is in the business of helping people make websites. Whether a small business, a blogger, a hobbyist or anything in between, they are there to help their customers make a beautiful website.
Their stated mission speaks volumes: Squarespace’s mission is to provide creative tools that help anyone give a voice to their ideas. From the designers and engineers who are creating the next generation of web and mobile experiences, to anyone putting a website together for the first time, Squarespace provides elegant solutions that set new standards for online publishing.
When it came time to plan for the Super Bowl, they teamed up with Wieden Kennedy to build a campaign that is both true to their mission and, frankly, a little weird. In came Jeff Bridges, along with the creative idea of showing how anyone (in this case Jeff) can create an amazingly engaging website.
The resulting creative starts with the statement: “At SquareSpace we believe that even the wildest ideas should come to life in a beautiful way.” And, as we seen in the campaign, some wild ideas did come to life.
What they built
For the campaign to work they needed more than just a video, more than just a press release, they needed full integration with all relevant channels. The resulting package of content included the Jeff Bridges Sleeping Tapes, played across their website, Jeff’s Squarespace website, their Twitter page, their Facebook page and a tutorial showing how Jeff made his Squarespace website. All of which led to the actual Super Bowl TV spot:
Why it worked: Four content elements that made this campaign a success
- The campaign speaks to the Squarespace brand value proposition. Yes, the campaign is odd. But, if you get to the bottom of things, what Squarespace created with this campaign speaks very well to what they’re all about—building websites. That is precisely what Mr. Bridges does; he builds a website. In the end, Squarespace created a beautifully odd user-experience that shows customers that they are capable of building a great website, no matter how odd.
- People like weird. Weird content, if maintaining brand relevancy, works because it catches people off guard. It elicits emotion of some sort (sometimes a cringe, sometimes a laugh). And, because of its irreverent nature, the content becomes highly shareable. Let’s face it, people like to share odd and weird content. For example, two of my favorites, Seagram’s 2007 viral video called Tea Party to launch a new adult raw tea, and BMW’s mockumentary made for the launch of the 1 Series:
Smirnoff Raw Tea
BMW “The Ramp” for Series 1 USA launch
- Celebrities draw in fans and have amazing power to influence. Like a lot of men in my generation, one of my favorite films is The Big Lebowski, so seeing Mr. Bridges channel The Dude in a marketing campaign and TV commercial got my attention. While dozens of ads streamed by during the Super Bowl, eliciting emotions ranging from deep sadness (Nationwide) to confusion (Nissan) to a joy (Fiat), all of them were quickly forgotten. None of them made me take action. In the end, I did not buy insurance, a bag of chips or a car. Nor will I. However, after seeing the Squarespace ad, I did grab my computer and type in the exact URL they shared. Why? Because, Jeff Bridges.
- Philanthropy adds a layer to a story and can make magic happen. While it was not spelled out in the TV ad, the Squarespace campaign would not have happened if 100% the proceeds from Jeff’s website had not gone to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. All of us know Bridges is an actor, many of us know he’s a musician but few realize he is a philanthropist working to help the anti-hunger community. As reported by the Huffington Post, Bridges “agreed to participate if 100 percent of the proceeds benefited the No Kid Hungry campaign.” It was not the philanthropy that made the content work, but it was the philanthropy that got Jeff Bridges involved, and without him, this creative concept would not have worked.
Squarespace could have created a vanilla TV ad and website and called it a day. But, that would not have the impact they needed. They needed something irreverent and weird to make an impression and break through the noise of the competing Super Bowl ads. And, inspiring fans of Mr. Bridges/The Dude, a demographic well represented at the Big Game, to take action certainly didn’t hurt the cause. Hats off to you, Squarespace.
Well played. Well played, indeed.