In Squarespace’s Super Bowl Ad, Winona Ryder Gives Her Pet Project a Website

Actress pays homage to her namesake hometown

winona ryder sitting in snow
Winona the actress heads to Winona the city to document life there. Squarespace/YouTube
Headshot of Minda Smiley

If it doesn’t have a website, did it even happen?

That’s essentially the premise of Squarespace’s Super Bowl ad, which stars Winona Ryder and will air between the first and second quarters of the game. In it, a puzzled police officer pulls over to ask Ryder, who’s lying in some snow on the side of the road in her hometown of Winona, Minn., what she’s up to.

When she nonchalantly explains that she’s building a website that features pictures she’s taken of the Midwestern town, he appears unfazed and lets her get on with her day.

“A website makes it real,” reads the message at the end. The Super Bowl ad is a teaser of sorts, as it directs curious viewers to, which is home to a collection of photos that the Stranger Things actress purportedly took herself on a recent trip to Winona.

According to Squarespace, which created the ad in-house, the photography is being turned into a book called “Welcome to Winona.” Only 100 copies will be available for purchase, and all proceeds will go to the American Indian College Fund, an organization dedicated to increasing the number of American Indians with college degrees.

As part of the campaign, Squarespace has created a three-minute film—which can also be found on the website—that shows Ryder walking through Winona and documenting its people, landmarks and happenings.

In the film, which is equal parts playful and touching, Ryder explores the town she’s named after but has little connection to now. Her travels take her to a local diner, ukulele club and bowling alley.

“I came here to find the true Winona,” she says. “To become a Winonan. And I did. But what I didn’t realize was how much I’d discover about Winona along the way.”

Last week, Squarespace announced its plans to return to the Super Bowl with an ad starring Ryder. Residents of Winona spotted the actress filming the commercial earlier this month, according to local press reports. However, it appears Squarespace took some creative liberties while filming the ad, as not all of it was shot in Winona—for instance, the bowling alley she’s seen in is actually in Minneapolis.

Squarespace said it is giving residents of Winona a comped website for one year to provide a platform for its people and places, particularly the small businesses and entrepreneurs based there.

For all the latest Super Bowl advertising news—who’s in, who’s out, teasers, full ads and more—check out Adweek’s Super Bowl 2020 Ad Tracker. And join us on the evening of Feb. 2 for the best live coverage of the commercials anywhere.

Client/In-House Creative: Squarespace
Chief Creative Officer: David Lee Creative
Director: Ben Hughes
Senior Art Director: Leilanni Todd
Senior Copywriter: Matt McCarron
Senior Designer: McLane Teitel
Designer: KyungWan Kang
Designer: Matt King
Director of Creative Production: Sandra Nam
Brand Production Manager: Amy Kommatas
Senior Brand Creative Producer, Broadcast: Niki Polyocan
Brand Creative Producer: Katie Flynn
Senior Photographer: Craig Reynolds
Senior Business Affairs Manager: Kiersten Bergstrom

Production Company: Anonymous Content
Director: Tim Godsall
DOP: Tim Hudson
Production Designer: Paul Austerberry
Managing Director: Eric Stern
Executive Producer: SueEllen Clair
Line Producer: Jeff Tanner

Editorial: Arcade Editorial
Editor: Geoff Hounsell
Assistant Editor: Max Hoffman
Executive Producer: Sila Soyer
Producer: Fanny Cruz

Finishing + VFX: Method Studios
Senior Flame Lead: Stephen E. Morris
VFX Supervisor: Ray Giarratana
2D Graphics: Nathanial Soto
Flame Artists: Christopher Memoli, Meggen Burdick, Margolit Steiner, Alex Djordjevic
Head of Production: Tsiliana Jolson
Senior Producer: Cameron Lewis
Assistants: Olivia Still, Nico Johnson

Color: Company 3
Colorist: Tom Poole Producer: Alexandra Lubrano
Music + Sound Design: Q Department
Mix: One Thousand Birds
Mixer: Torin Geller
Executive Producer: Kira MacKnight
Producer: Alex Berner-Coe
Recording Engineer: Jackie Zhou
Producer: KT Pipal

“Welcome to Winona” Photo Book
Creative Director: Winona Ryder
Client/In-House Creative: Squarespace
Photographers: Craig Reynolds, Winona Ryder, David Lee
1st Photo Assistant: Max Dworkin
Photo Retouchers: Derek Kalisher, Kenneth Pizzo
Designer: Matt King
Brand Creative Producer: Katie Flynn

TEASER/BTS FILM: “Winona Goes Home”
Client/In-House Creative: Squarespace
Director: Phillipe Tremblay
DOP: Dave Waldron
Editor: Sarah Harvey
Brand Creative Producer: Katie Flynn
Colorist: Tom Poole
Mix: One Thousand Birds
Finishing/VFX/Conform: Method Studios

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@Minda_Smiley Minda Smiley is an agencies reporter at Adweek.