Ex Machina: SXSW Tinder Stunt

Ex Machina: SXSW Tinder Stunt (2015)

A24 Films

“You’re going to be the human component in a Turing Test.” - Nathan, Ex Machina

Ex Machina is a film that centers around artificial intelligence and the numerous questions that surround the human response to this subject. Caleb (Domnhall Gleason) is chosen by Nathan (Oscar Isaac) to test his revolutionary artificial being Ava (Alicia Virkander). Stunning and intelligent, Ava quickly elicits an emotional connection from Caleb, raising all sorts of questions about whether or not an AI can be capable of having a relationship that is genuinely human.

In order to drive further conversation and raise awareness toward the film’s SXSW premiere, Watson created an automated Tinder profile for Ava that would interact with male festival goers - a real-life Tinder Turing Test. Upon launch, Ava’s profile garnered hundreds of matches that would soon be asked several thematic questions relating to the film, relationships and the implications of AI in the modern world. Select matches who answered all of Ava’s questions were given the opportunity to attend the premiere.

The stunt generated incredibly publicity, earning 50+ write-ups from respected outlets like Newsweek, Time, Adweek, Mashable and Wired to name a few. Response was polarizing - many publications recognized the cleverness and creativity involved with stunt but questioned if the moral envelope was pushed too far. Since the film’s subject matter deals so heavily with the implications and potential consequences of artificial intelligence in our world, both Watson and A24 recognized this type of dialogue as the perfect result.


Shorty Awards

+ Gold Honoree


Fast Company

"...The men had been catfished. Ava was a bot, designed by Ex Machina’s New York–based distributor, A24, using a photo of the film’s lead, Alicia Vikander. The guerrilla campaign, which took just a month to plan, barely dented the film’s marketing budget but garnered global headlines."


"Life imitates art through a clever marketing ploy! Ex Machina, a movie about a seductive robot and a man who falls in love with her, is catfishing men on Tinder at SXSW."


"If you were on Tinder in Austin on Saturday, you may have come across a sneaky — if brilliant — viral marketing campaign."


"It's pretty brilliant in the way it ties into the movie. Only in retrospect do you realize that Ava's questions are about a robot wanting to know what it's like to be human."


"Watch Out SXSW, There’s A Tinder Robot Lady Pretending To Be Human.. A little bit of on-campus hooking up is expected, so sci-fi film Ex Machina have seized the opportunity to stage a crafty bit of IRL PR stunting."


"Using the hashtag #ExMachina, Twitter users were overwhelmingly impressed by the marketing campaign, calling it 'genius', 'wild" and "wicked smart'."


"It's no secret that the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas, is a hotbed of marketing tricks… As Adweek reports, this year's top prize will likely go to A24, the company distributing Alex Garland's new film, Ex Machina, which premieres during SXSW."


"A Tinder user who was in Austin for SXSW on Saturday was catfished by an advertisement for a movie."