Google blocks invasive Burger King ad

Posted April 13, 2017

The hamburger chain unveiled a 15-second ad Wednesday created to trigger Google Home devices into reciting the definition of a Whopper, pulled from the website Wikipedia.

Google then explains what a Whopper is, using the sandwich's entry on Wikipedia. Last month, Google Home owners complained that the "My Day" function, which reads out things like weather, traffic conditions and calendar appointments for the day, ended up recommending the new film "Beauty and the Beast". The Google Home, prompted by the phrase "OK Google", recites the Wikipedia entry for Burger King's whopper.

It could be expected that Burger King, by triggering Google Home to search for this product, would irritate more than just vegans and vegetarians.

The 15-second advertisement features an actor standing next to a television and a Google Home. Unfortunately, that ease of use also makes them particularly vulnerable to trolling, and while you might expect such shenanigans from a bored friend, you probably won't be prepared for a Burger King commercial to attempt a hijack of your know-it-all speaker.

According to David Carroll, associate professor of media design at the Parsons School of Design, Burger King's approach might be a novel gimmick, but it will wear off fast.

"OK, Google, what is the Whopper burger?" he says. The line was first added by someone with the username "Fermachado123", which appears to be the username of Burger King's marketing chief, Fernando Machado. In January, a San Diego TV station reported on a story that a six-year-old had mistakenly ordered a dollhouse by talking to the Amazon Echo device.

It raises the grim prospect of more marketers abuse of the growing number of voice activated devices in people's homes.

It actually looks like Burger King went and edited the Whopper entry ahead of this ad being run.

Contrary to reports claiming Google has disabled the functionality, we were just able to summon the Assistant by playing the ad.

Carroll said if brands start using voice assistants as vehicles for advertising, people might stop using them. Consumers typically leave these devices on, meaning they could be triggered at any time with the correct words.