Ex Machina is a film that explores the relationships between humans and artificial beings, raising questions about whether or not an AI can be capable of having a relationship that is genuinely human.
The film's SXSW premiere was as a key opportunity to generate audience awareness and garner momentum leading up to the theatrical debut. Watson DG was tasked with creating a social activation that would maximize the film's presence at the festival and if successful, amass publicity and positive word–of–mouth amongst moviegoers.
Singularity has become part of the contemporary social zeitgeist. As humans increase their dependence on technology, the line between man and machine is continually blurred.
Watson sought to create an experience that would allow audiences to explore the concept of singularity in real–life. By putting Ava on Tinder, she'd immediately connect with festival goers in a familiar way, asking questions and creating dialogue surrounding the film's themes en route to driving them to the premiere.
The execution was more than just creating a profile. In order to stay true to Ava's artificial nature, we had to create automation functionality that not only matched users to Ava but also interacted with them via a series of programmed questions and responses. The automation functionality could also be toggled on and off, allowing us the opportunity to have actual conversations with matches. Obscuring the boundaries between human and robot, this was a real-life Turing Test.
Within minutes of launching Ava's profile, the matches started rolling in. 400+ unique conversations were executed over a 3–day span, many of which resulted in trips to the premiere. Once word got out that Ava's profile was tied to the film, publicity coverage and Twitter response spiked as audiences recognized the clever, yet morally polarizing marketing initiative. The activation was one of the most discussed topics at SXSW, standing out as a creative triumph amongst the convention's myriad of ads and stunts. A resounding success, the effort garnered numerous write–ups in top–class publications including:
AdWeek, Wired, Time, Newsweek, Fast Company, Buzzfeed, The Guardian, BBC, People,
Huffington Post, MSN, Yahoo Movies, The Hollywood Reporter, Mashable, Vulture, Endgadget,
Indiewire, Tech Crunch, Daily Mail, Bustle and The Verge.
When released in theaters, Ex Machina posted the highest grossing opening weekend ever for distributor A24 and has since, surpassed critical and box office expectations everywhere.