Last year, The Atlantic launched its “Question Your Answers” brand campaign with a brilliant short film starring Michael K. Williams in a Multiplicity-esque role in which he questions versions of himself about being typecast.
Now The Atlantic, with Wieden+Kennedy New York, has partnered with HBO to expand “Question Your Answers” into a series of new short films starring talent from HBO shows. The first, directed by David Shane, stars Westworld‘s Jeffrey Wright–like Williams last year–playing multiple versions of himself.
A clearly anxious Wright sits on a nearly empty plane, flying in a storm. When he asks, “Should I be scared?” it kicks off a debate between Nervous Jeffrey, Calm Jeffrey, and Freakingthef**kout Jeffrey, and soon the question becomes less about air turbulence and more about global instability.
Sam Rosen, The Atlantic‘s head of growth, says that after “Typecast” with Michael K. Williams was released, they met with HBO to explore partnering on extending the series together, since it seemed like the perfect intersection of what the two brands stand for. “After one meeting, we all agreed we should pursue the idea as a shared platform,” says Rosen.
HBO Executive Vice President of Consumer Marketing Chris Spadaccini says that the new film and campaign reinforce HBO’s unique brand of programming and that the brand goal is to make a positive social statement at a time of unprecedented divisiveness within the culture. “This campaign is meant to encourage viewers to embrace a mindset of continuous introspection,” says Spadaccini. “It’s only when we listen to one another and explore feelings and arguments that challenge our most deeply held beliefs that civil discourse can occur.”
Rosen says the campaign’s goal is to encourage people to turn to The Atlantic when they want to be challenged, when they want to engage in debate, to be provoked to think more deeply, not simply to confirm what they already know. “We are living in an increasingly polarized world, where it’s tough even to agree on a starting point for debate; yet we must be able to engage in reasoned, open-minded conversation if we want to move forward as a society.