Re:thinking The Atlantic

Atlantic Re:think is a uniquely positioned entity in the branded content space. Made up of journalists, producers, and analysts, Re:think takes its publication pedigree and leans into it, yielding work that is investigative, educational, and story-driven in nature. caught up with Jeremy Elias, Creative Director at Atlantic Re:think, to better understand Re:think’s ethos, work, and future in this burgeoning space.

What is Atlantic Re:think?

Atlantic Re:think is the in-house branded content team for The Atlantic. We’re a group of 35+ strategists, reporters, designers, developers, producers and analysts, who apply the editorial sensibilities of The Atlantic to creative work for brands.

How does the unique makeup of your team benefit the work you do?

When you look across the team, you see people with backgrounds in journalism, advertising, academia, etc, all with their own broad range of interests and passions. That’s evident in the day-to-day work at Re:think, as well as in the team’s personal projects outside of work: a recently released book on American sports culture, a documentary on women-led communities, a published interview with Iran’s most iconic entertainer, or a newsletter on the issues faced by women of color.

Whether sitting in a brainstorm, or sitting in a film edit, those passions and experiences almost always benefit the creative process; they yield smart, authentic, novel, informed ideas. Never has that been more important than today, when brands are looking to have more substantial, socially-focused conversations with audiences.

Our success as a content studio will depend on finding more people with a diverse range of passions and experiences. It’s sort of the antidote to what advertising has been guilty of for so long — promoting a certain conformity around creative thought — looking for folks from a handful of the same ad schools, judging their value on a handful of awards.

You seem to have a firm grasp on the notion that the internet audience is a discerning one… how do you access rather than alienate a generation that approaches brands with such scrutiny?

I don’t think this is a particularly novel view, but audiences approach any form of content asking“What’s in it for me?” Today, the answer to that question has to be more compelling than it’s ever been. With branded content, the answer cannot be “You get to learn about our product.” Brands will fail in that world. The answer has to be “We’re going to entertain you.” or “We’re going to teach you something about an important topic.” or “We’re going to give you a tool that can help you do X”. And in getting there, you need to figure out the role of the brand. Maybe the brand is using their proprietary data, providing access to experts, or maybe they’re using their capital to fund this amazingly important story.