Burger King has definitely gotten creative with their marketing. The fast-food giant’s latest commercial gives customers information about their famous Whopper burger in a pretty unconventional way. Take a look:
Yes, you heard right. And if you have a Google Home device, you heard a little bit more than what was in the ad. Burger King included the phrase “Okay, Google: What is the Whopper burger?”, prompting any smart speaker in close vicinity to recite the Wikipedia definition of a Whopper. This is the first time a major company has designed an ad to hijack the AI systems that are rapidly becoming commonplace in our homes.
The Smartest Ad Ever?
Google doesn’t think so. The company blocked its devices from responding to the ad within three hours of its debut. Burger King didn’t ask for the company’s permission before airing the ad. While that isn’t illegal, Google may fear that the ad will set an unwanted precedent for other companies interested in taking advantage of their product. After all, Google Home users were pretty angry when their devices gave them unsolicited information on the new Beauty and the Beast film (even though Google claimed it wasn’t an ad). The incident also highlights existing privacy concerns about smart speakers like Google Home and Amazon Echo. Potential customers may avoid the product if they are worried about the possibility of unauthorized voices commanding the technology in their home. Burger King’s commercial makes the reality of such a situation very clear.
Burger King got around Google’s resistance by manipulating the commercial’s audio to pass through the filter that was set up. However, the ad poses other obstacles for Burger King. Once people caught on to the fact that Google’s smart assistant pulls from publicly-sourced Wikipedia to give information on the Whopper, the burger’s Wikipedia page became a hot spot for trolls. Edits made to the page by the public included phrases like “cancer-causing” and “cyanide”. Guess you just can’t have it your way…
The Future of Marketing?
Is the connected home the next marketing frontier? If we’re answering based off of the results of this commercial, things are a bit unclear. Many Google Home owners founds the ad to be intrusive and flat-out annoying. However, this controversy helped bring Burger King to the forefront of online conversation. According to Burger King spokeswoman Dara Schopp, the brand saw a 300% increase in social conversation on Twitter compared to the day before the ad was launched. So regardless of whether or not the ad made people angry, it definitely got them talking about Burger King.