Burger King released a highly invasive ad that was designed to activate Google home and Android phones. Many people were unhappy about their latest marketing decision, and they took to the web to sabotage their plans. The ad has been blocked since then.
The devices would read out information about the burgers from an article on Wikipedia, so in retaliation, the Wiki article was edited to describe the Whopper as the “worst hamburger product” and also snuck in “cyanide” to the list of ingredients for the patty.
In addition to the invasiveness of the ad, the public is also outraged, because it shows changes by the Burger King Corporation to describe the burger as “America’s favorite” and “100% beef with no preservatives.” Both of these changes were quickly remedied to the original article.
Whether Burger King expected users to go on to make their own, less flattering edits is unclear but Emily Tan, technology editor at marketing news website Campaign, thinks it might have been aware such a reaction was likely. “Burger King has a reputation as quite a provocative brand and the idea that users are hijacking a brand can charm and amuse people. There is a chance that Burger King expected this to happen,” she said.
However, she thought it was less likely they expected the backlash from users about the intrusive nature of such adverts. “People didn’t like this invading their living rooms. Studies suggest that people feel quite close to these smart speaker devices, they become a personality, and when something you regard as your friend pipes up with information that you didn’t ask for, that creeps people out.”
The stunt has also renewed concerns about voice-activated home speakers being used for advertising.
While Burger King said that it “saw an opportunity to do something exciting with the emerging technology of intelligent personal assistant devices”, others feel it should have acted with more caution. “Brands are always keen to jump on the newest technologies to engage their audience and sometimes this means mistakes are made.,” Justin Pearse, managing director of Drum Studios, an arm of marketing news website, The Drum told the BBC.