Mar­ket­ing ma­chine

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - NEWS - LAU­REN MUR­PHY

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?

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