The CMOs Behind the 2017 Super Bowl Ads: Big-Game Strategy And Goals

This year’s Super Bowl commercials are upon us. Many have been released online and on TV in advance of the game, as in years past, and many will not be revealed—with surprises galore—until game day. CMOs at companies large and small have committed upwards of $5 million for 30 seconds of air time, not to mention the expense of additional efforts to bolster the ads' exposure.

But their reasons for and goals behind doing so vary. So how do CMOs make the decision, and how do they factor in a Super Bowl ad as part of an overarching brand strategy?

The full narrative of this year’s Super Bowl ads will play out on Sunday, but in the meantime, I took simple questions such as “why?” and “why now?” and “is it worth it?” to CMOs behind some of this year’s big advertisers: Anheuser-Busch, Audi, Bai Brands, Kia, Squarespace, Avocados From Mexico,, Wendy’s, Skittles and H&R Block. Here are their takes on what drives them to go big, what constitutes a win, and whether the current political climate and cultural conversation affected their approaches in any way.

Jennifer Rooney: Why advertise in the Super Bowl?

Anthony Casalena, founder and CEO, Squarespace: The Super Bowl is a unique event in that the world tunes in not just for the game, but for the ads themselves. That’s an exceptional opportunity for us to reach a huge, engaged audience, and produce work that goes creatively beyond what we might do in other contexts.

Rooney: Why now?

Casalena: While working with John Malkovich on our Playing Lynchcollaboration, we learned that he started his career in costume design, and that he still hoped to pursue his own fashion line. Our positioning at the start of 2017 is all about making your next move, so we took advantage of the opportunity to help John tell his story as part of our call to action.

Also, as part of our ambition to become a true all-in-one platform for anyone looking to build an online presence, we’ve invested heavily in our Domains product over this past year. Most people know us for our website builder, which remains best in class, but we’re beginning to really strengthen the ecosystem of products around Squarespace. Our ad tells a Domains story as much as it does a website one — we want people to be aware that they can get a domain from Squarespace as well.

Rooney: Is spending $5 million for a 30-second spot worth it?

Casalena: This is our fourth ad, so we’re definitely pleased with the investment thus far. I will say the ad effectiveness is quite dependent on the creative, so no two we’ve done have been alike.