HBO launched Westworld’s inaugural season by selling the series as a luxury theme park, but as Season 2 featured a more aggressive and bold narrative—with the enraged hosts taking center stage—the marketing begged for a more audacious approach. In order to push the boundaries of direct communication with fans, HBO partnered with Quartz Bot Studio, an industry leader in chatbot development, to introduce viewers to Tes, a Delos host inviting recent Westworld visitors to join an exclusive park loyalty program which offered unique benefits to those who participated in her probing question sessions.
Astute fans quickly realized that while Tes seemed to be inviting users to join an elite status program, her sentient personality was pushing through the script, subversively warning them of the dangers of insidious corporate parent company, Delos, and its manipulation of their user data. Using natural language processing and long-term memory, a full-scale ARG launched within Tes’ Facebook Messenger conversation window, prompting fans to unlock a code hidden in Latin text from The Aeneid, uncover Tes’ true movie, and learn something about themselves in the process. The reactive, experimental storytelling adapted week over week to subvert user expectations, collect data and seize new technological opportunities. Week over week, Tes’ story evolved in lock step with the revolt of the hosts on screen, culminating in a critical choice for the viewer: Delete your data forever or access a complex analysis of your personality.