Of all of the weird, wonderful & exciting things happening at South by Southwest (aka ‘SXSW’) this week, the one making headlines is a contentious marketing campaign using Tinder.
Swipers in Austin may have come across a pretty young lady named Ava, who engaged in a brief conversation about love before sending would-be soulmates to her Instagram account. One catch… the Instagram account was not in fact that of a real, genuine person, but actually a promo for a new sci-fi film called Ex-Machina.
This scenario begs the question – is this breed of disruptive marketing good idea or a terrible one? Plenty have labelled Ex-Machina’s activity here as deceptive, invasive or spammy… but the reality is that it has brought a ton of exposure to the film. All of the right ingredients are there- the SXSW audience made up of hyperactive social media users, a dash of controversy, and a topic that the media loves (Tinder). Love it or hate it, there are a ton of people talking about the film now that had previously never heard of it.
With a plot revolving around the fading distinction between real humans and AI, the controversy stirred up here is almost a perfect reflection of the film itself. Marketers shouldn’t be afraid to play with a little controversy, as human nature means that we’re drawn to the distinctive & the provocative – it’s what we pay attention to, and it’s what gets us talking.