Dolly Parton gives cube monkeys everywhere something to sing and dance about in Squarespace's Super Bowl commercial, unveiled Tuesday morning, reworking her 1980 smash "9 to 5" as "5 to 9," an anthem for making after-hours entrepreneurial dreams come true.
We open in a typically drab office suite. Gray tones and quiet abound, as bored, uninspired white-collar drones toil away, their souls seemingly mashed into oatmeal. When 5 p.m. rolls around, however, the scene explodes with sound and color. The crew comes to life, pursuing private ambitions and side hustles—topiary design, hairdressing, pastry—at their desks and in corridors, as Parton's priceless pipes call the tune.
You can check out the 60-second version below:
"Working 5 to 9, you've got passion and a vision,
Cuz it's hustlin' time, whole new way to make a livin'.
You got dreams, and you know they matter—
Be your own boss instead of climbin' that ladder."
The spot closes with the line "Make Your 5 to 9 full time (with help from Squarespace, of course, though the branding's pretty minimal).
Developed in-house and staged with great flair by Damien Chazelle, who won an Oscar for directing La La Land, the ad benefits from the familiar set-up. Who hasn't sat moldering in their cubicle (or home-space, these days), eyes welded to the minute hand that never seems to budge, as visions of running their own business dance through their heads?
In fact, the film updates themes from Monster.com's "When I Grow Up," which ran on Super Bowl XXXIII in 1999. Created by Mullen and director Bryan Buckley, it's considered one of the greatest commercials ever made, a mock-documentary with school-age kids delivering lines like "I want to claw my way up to middle management." Thanks to Monster's listings, however, they'll have a chance to find more fulfilling jobs. Today, Squarespace gives a new generation website building tools and services to help them succeed at working for themselves.
"Super Bowl advertising is as mass as it gets, so it forces you to think broader than your usual audience," Squarespace creative vice president Ben Hughes tells Muse. "What do 100 million people want and need after the gauntlet of 2020? Hope. Optimism. Something transportive. This ad is a modern version of a classic movie musical. It's a spectacle, but one that's anchored by a message anyone can relate to: You deserve to follow your dreams and be happy."
He adds: "Studies have shown that more than 50 percent of Americans feel disengaged from their jobs, which is not great considering how much time we spend working. One solution that more people are considering is entrepreneurship. But rather than treating it as an all-or-nothing proposition, they're looking at it as something you gradually transition into over time."
That means "they have regular 9 to 5 jobs, but outside of work, they're planting seeds for the future in the form of side businesses—those are their 5 to 9s," Hughes says.
Once Squarespace settled on its message, Parton's song, tweaked accordingly, felt like a natural fit.
After all, "9 to 5" has "long been an anthem for people who feel unhappy or undervalued at work," Hughes says. "We wanted to flip it to encourage them to bet on themselves and go after their '5 to 9.' And incredibly, Dolly immediately got it and agreed."
Parton's such a global treasure that her involvement counts as a bona fide coup (though to be clear, she doesn't appear in the spot, except as a photo on a magazine cover). Plus, the original tune's pretty on point to start with, so the update feels like less of a stretch than a smooth evolution:
"Working 5 to 9, making something of your own now,
And it feels so fine to build a business from your know-how.
Gonna move ahead, and there's nothing that you can't do—
When you listen to that little voice inside you."
"You have to go into this kind of thing being prepared for it not to work," Hughes says. "We were proposing to an iconic artist that she let us rewrite one of her most iconic songs. That's a crazy ask, but we had so much heart for the idea that we figured it was worth a shot. We fully expected to put it out there, get our hopes up for a few days, then get turned down and move on to the next idea."
Ultimately, however, Parton jumped at the chance to participate, recalling her own struggles to succeed, and savoring an opportunity to inspire others.
"As a woman in a male-dominated industry, she had to work twice as hard to earn her seat at the table," Hughes says. "On top of writing, recording, touring and appearing on TV, she built her own businesses because she didn't want her success to be reliant on anyone else. She instantly got the idea and loved how it made the song relevant for today."
The team shot the high-steppin' hijinks last month, appropriately enough in Nashville, the capital of country music, long associated with the Parton mystique.
"Our cast and crew had to fly in early, we all stayed at the same hotel, there was mandatory daily Covid testing—essentially, our own version of the NBA bubble," Hughes recalls. "The shoot itself was two days in full PPE, and after trying to do my job in a mask and face shield, I have an even deeper appreciation for the frontline workers who have been doing that for almost a year."
In addition to director Chazelle, key contributors include DP Rodrigo Preto (who spent days pre-lighting the stage, with every node individually controlled on a dimmer panel); Justin Peck from the New York City Ballet, who did the choreography; set designer Kristen Vallow; and, during post-production, Tom Cross, who edited La La Land as well as First Man and Whiplash for Chazelle.
From a brand perspective, "5 to 9" amplifies themes from recent Squarespace odysseys, including this rocket ride from a few months back, and 2019's splashy exploration of startup dreams. For last year's Super Bowl, the brand returned Winona Ryder to her hometown of Winona, Minn., to help the actress express her passion for photography.
The reimagined "5 to 9" track will stream on Spotify and Apple Music. Squarespace has yet to determine where the commercial will appear in the game, or if it will air the thirty-second edit below, instead of the minute-long cut:
Super Bowl 2021 Campaign | Dolly Parton "5 to 9"
Client / In-House Creative: Squarespace
Founder & CEO: Anthony Casalena
Chief Creative Officer: David Lee
VP, Creative: Ben Hughes
Director of Creative Production: Sandra Nam
Creative Director: Mathieu Zarbatany
Sr Art Director: Tim Scales
Copywriter: Niamh Grunfeld
Staff Producer: Karen Jean
Creative Producer: Katie Flynn
Sr Business Affairs Manager: Kiersten Bergstrom
Sr Designer: Nonie Hunter
Sr Designer: Matt King
Sr Motion Designer: Videl Torres
Photographer: Craig Reynolds
Retoucher: Kenneth Pizzo
Retoucher: Derek Kalisher
Creative Producer: Katie Flynn
Production Company: Superprime
Director: Damien Chazelle
DOP: Rodrigo Prieto
Production Designer: Kristin Vallow
Choreographer: Justin Peck
Executive Producer: Rebecca Skinner
Line Producer: Laurie Boccaccio
Line Producer: Michaela Johnson
Editorial: Iconic Editorial
Editor: Tom Cross A.C.E.
Assistant Editor: Michael Wolfe
Founder: Devin Mann
Founding Partner: Marc Altshuler
Executive Producer: Betsy Beale
Finishing + VFX: MPC
Executive Producer: Matthew Loranger
Senior Producer: Anna Kravtsov
Producer: Zahid Nazir Khan
Production Coordinator: Jonny Dontchev
Creative Director: Tom McCullough
VFX Supervisor/2D Lead: Rob Walker
2D Team: Mazyar Sharifian, Aska Otake, Brian Benson, Mat Elin, Anand Swain, Arun
Ramkrishna Sharma, Deepak Baranwal, Dumpala Surender, Karthick K, Pramod Dwivedi,
Rajesh Kumar Kaushik
3D Lead: Vadim Turchin
3D: Shreyas Joshi, Vivek Mayanglambam
Design: Federico Saenz Recio
Color: Company 3
Colorist: Natasha Leonnet
VP, Short Form: Ashley McKim
Color Producer: Mario Castro
Music + Sound Design: Squeak E Clean
Executive Creative Director: Sam Spiegel
Executive Producer: Amanda Patterson
Creative Director/Arranger: Rob Barbato
Producer: Blade Thornton
Sound Design: Drew Fischer
Mix: One Thousand Birds
Lead Sound + Interactive Designer: Torin Geller
Managing Director: Kira McKnight
Producer: Alex Berner-Coe