John Malkovich is an American treasure. On this there can be no debate. The man is a master. Comedy. Drama. Self-aware masterpiece. The odd David Lynch tribute. Dude can do it all. Recently, he's been doing it with Squarespace, which makes that brand's marketing efforts always worth watching. Now the two are taking their partnership to the Super Bowl, but not before serving up a hilarious teaser in which the award-winning actor voices his displeasure that someone else own his namesake URL. The lesson? Don't f**k with the Malkovich. Onward?
What: Squarespace's Super Bowl ad teaser, featuring John Malkovich and . . . John Malkovich
Who: Squarespace, John x Hannes
Why We Care: First they took Jeff Bridges to the big game in 2015, then last year it was Key and Peele. Now it's another legend. Malkovich with what appears to be more than a few f**ks given. What's not to like?
What: A new campaign from the Mattel brand that flips the gender stereotype to show dads the impact of playing with their daughters
Who: Mattel, BBDO San Francisco
Why We Care: Not only does this continue the brand's refreshing marketing strategy over the last couple of years, it does it in an unexpected way—both in aiming a campaign at men, but also launching it during the NFL playoffs. Bold move, Barbie. And if the goal is, as brand manager Lisa McKnight told us earlier this week, to become part of a cultural conversation, then this is a great way to go about doing it.
What: An ad for the Volvo V90 Cross Country, featuring a life-affirming recorded speech by the late philosopher Alan Watts
Who: Volvo Car Group, Forsman & Bodenfors
Why We Care: Bet you never thought a car ad would help you reexamine your life priorities, eh? Jeez. But this atmospheric, beautifully shot ad does just that. Look, I know it's supposed to be selling a car, but every one of Watts's words rings true, which is a pretty nice brand halo to have whether you're running out to buy a Volvo or not.
What: A strange little ad, disguised as a trailer for a fake film
Who: MailChimp, Droga5
Why We Care: It's no "MailKiiimp?" but still. This is about a dream. A dream of a better life. In this case, that dream belongs to a tiny shrimp, nestled among his brethren and some lettuce, who dares to sing a song of defiance, of ambition, of freedom, until his grisly demise.
What: A branded short film, written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino (The Young Pope), starring Clive Owen as a mysterious bartender
Who: Campari, Paolo Sorrentino
Why We Care: Now that every brand and its mom are making "content," it's tough not to look at any and all of it with a healthy bucket of skepticism. Especially if it's 13 minutes long. But here Campari made some good bets getting Sorrentino and of course Owen involved. It's a fun, stylish short that may just chip a tiny bit of that skepticism away, even if for just 13 minutes.