It’s either the cleverest or the cruellest marketing campaign for a movie we’ve heard about for a while. In any case, a number of users of the dating app Tinder – which “matches” people with potential dates in close proximity to them – were left with egg on their proverbial faces at SXSW earlier this week.
It was revealed that Ava, an attractive woman they’d “swiped right” for, was actually a doctored image of Alicia Vikander and a devious part of a publicity push for the Alex Garland-directed Ex-Machina. The enjoyable sci-fi film poses questions about what constitutes humanity, and whether it’s possible to have romantic feelings for artificial intelligence; suffice to say that you shouldn’t expect The Terminator to turn up on your doorstep clutching a dozen roses anytime soon.
It’s not the first time that a movie has tricked its audience in order to generate publicity. One of the biggest marketing scams in recent memory was 1999’s The Blair Witch Project being posed as genuine footage recovered from a camping trip gone awry (don’t pretend you weren’t duped).
An equally innovative one in 2012 saw New Yorkers express disbelief at seeing “flying people” over Manhattan; the reality was remote-controlled planes shaped like humans to promote Chronicle, a film that involves high-school kids with – you guessed it – the ability to fly.
And then, of course, there’s The Interview, the biggest movie marketing scam of all – leading people around the world to believe that North Korea was on the brink of nuclear war with America because of a Seth Rogen film. Genius.
I mean, the prospective obliteration of mankind had to be part of the marketing budget, right? Right?