Alex Garland's film focuses on a robot trying to discover what it means to be human

By Alex Heigl
Updated March 16, 2015 01:20 PM
Credit: Universal Pictures International

It’s no secret that the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas, is a hotbed of marketing tricks. From stunts like roving karaoke buses to homeless men used as Wi-Fi hotspots, the annual festival draws any number of innovative, occasionally insane ideas companies use to promote their products.

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.

Tinder users in Austin have been swiping right on “Ava,” an attractive 25-year-old whose bio simply reads, “I like to draw. And busy intersections in cities.” If you don’t immediately notice that Ava bears a striking resemblance to Ex Machina‘s Swedish star, Alicia Vikander, and happen to strike up a conversation with her, she’ll begin asking you a series of questions like, “Have you ever been in love?” and “What makes you human?”

Eventually Ava directs users to her Instagram, which is – womp womp – some promotional stills and a brief clip from the film. Sorry, guys, that wasn’t a lonely Swede who wants to meet up for some of Austin’s famous tacos – that was a marketing ploy.

It’s genius and only a little bit diabolical: Ex Machina‘s plot concerns an artificial intelligence trying to know what it’s like to be human, and what is Tinder if not a terrible tiny microcosm of human behavior? Of course, there are real humans at the other end of these Tinder interactions, and whatever your stance on the app, these hapless dudes are still being manipulated to get publicity for a movie. At least they didn’t have to dig anyone’s car out of a blizzard, though.