Super Bowl commercials 2017: Political pitfalls abound

There’s a good reason why Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest day of the year for advertisers: It’s the only annual TV event where more than 100 million viewers are eager to watch the commercials. 

The scrutiny that Super Bowl commercials get raises the stakes for advertisers, which in 2017 are each shelling out an average of $5 million to secure air time during the game. Marketers spend millions more on production, hiring top-notch directors and celebrities, and running promotions leading up to the game, which will air Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET on Fox. 

Despite advertisers’ hard work to on their marketing messages -- which typically boil down to “buy our product” -- this year’s batch of ads may get viewed through an unintentional lens: politics.

“We try to stay pretty apolitical,” said Squarespace Chief Executive Anthony Casalena. “We’re a platform used by so many different people, with different ideas and from different countries. We are proponents of free speech and don’t want to get into value judgements.”

Squarespace’s Super Bowl commercial features actor John Malkovich as he tries to secure a domain name, only to find that somebody else has secured the address. Growing increasingly frustrated, he starts swearing at, a website that shows a fisherman holding his catch. “How the f-- can you be John Malkovich?” he yells. 

“It’s a serious kind of funny, not slapstick,” Casalena said. “That thoughtful humor is where we want to be as a brand.”