Advertising

Burger King advertisement backfires after ordering Google Home devices to talk about its burgers

Dominic Powell /

Burger King

Source: YouTube

A crafty advertising campaign from US fast food retailer Burger King has backfired after an intervention from Google.

The Verge reports Burger King released a short advertisement hoping to take advantage of Google’s ‘Home’ device — an always-listening in-home voice assistant designed to let users ask questions and execute commands, provided they preface the question with “Okay Google”.

With Google Home gaining popularity in the US, Burger King jumped on the opportunity by releasing a quick 15-second clip showing a Burger King employee holding a burger.

“You’re watching a 15-second Burger King ad, which is unfortunately not enough time to explain all the fresh ingredients in the whopper sandwich,” the employee says.

After saying he has an idea, the employee beckons the camera closer, before stating, “Okay Google, what is the whopper burger?”

This clearly dictated command proceeded to set off any Google Home devices or Android phones with Google Now enabled, which then explained to the hapless user what Burger King’s signature “Whopper” burger is.

Google has previously experimented with its advertisements through its Home devices, copping flak for integrating an advertisement for Disney’s new Beauty and the Beast film.

However, the company was not involved with the Burger King ad, which instead drew on a description from the product’s Wikipedia page.

As Wikipedia is free for anyone to edit, The Verge reports Burger King is facing allegations it changed the opening paragraph of Wikipedia page for the Whopper in order to make the Google Home devices read: “The Whopper is a burger, consisting of a flame-grilled patty made with 100 percent beef with no preservatives or fillers, topped with sliced tomatoes, onions, lettuce, pickles, ketchup, and mayonnaise, served on a sesame-seed bun”.

Wikipedia has now locked the page for editing, and just three hours after Burger King unveiled the advertisement, Google stopped its Home device from responding, reports The Verge.

The device will still respond if a real user asks, which suggests Google registered the sound byte from the advertisement as unable to trigger its devices.

Similar style advertising “the way of the future”

While brands are increasingly integrating technology with their marketing material, Janey Paton, director of Belles and Whistles Communications, says it’s likely some consumers would find Burger King’s advertising tactics “a bit intrusive”.

“With social media, following and receiving ads from brands is generally opt-in, so you’re choosing to receive information from a brand you’re interested in,” Paton told SmartCompany.

“Although Burger King is embracing new technology, some users might find that intrusive.”

Prior to the ad campaign, the first paragraph on the Wikipedia page read: “The Whopper sandwich is the signature hamburger product sold by the international fast-food restaurant chain Burger King and its Australian franchise Hungry Jack’s”.

Paton thinks this approach is “really smart”, saying despite the criticism, Burger King should be applauded for being “proactive” with its advertising.

“Wikipedia can be edited, that’s one whole part of the platform. Smart brands are aware of that, and they’re being proactive,” she says.

The campaign did not run in Australia, as the Google Home device is not officially supported in the region. However, Google is likely to bring the device Down Under, which could prompt similar campaigns. Paton believes these kind of advertising tactics are “the way of the future”.

“Everywhere you look now devices are becoming more and more integrated with advertising. Modern technology lets you advertising in a more streamlined and more seamless way, and it allows brands to be far more targeted,” she says.

“In this scenario, you don’t even have to leave your couch.”

SmartCompany contacted Google but the company declined to comment. SmartCompany did not receive a response from Burger King prior to publication.

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Dominic Powell

Dominic is the features and profiles editor at SmartCompany.

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