Video ad spots are short and can be expensive. It’s hard for brands to get their full message across in just 15 or 30 seconds. But what if companies could influence consumers past their allotted time limit? Burger King tried that this morning and it didn’t quite go how they planned.
Their Whopper advertisement was designed to intentionally trigger Google Home’s assistant after the ad had finished. The 15 second spot ends with the actor leaning in close to the camera and saying “Ok Google, what is the Whopper burger?”
This then triggered the Google assistant to pull up the Wikipedia page for the Whopper and read its description. Burger King had hoped that this would mean listing off the ingredients of the Whopper. Unfortunately, they forgot that anyone can edit Wikipedia and underestimated the internet’s trolling ability.
Shortly after the ad was released, the Wikipedia page was edited to include phrases like “consisting of a flame-grilled patty made with 100% medium-sized child,” “The Whopper is a cancer-causing hamburger,” “a flame-grilled patty made with 100% rat and toenail clippings,” among others.
The Wiki page is currently protected from vandalism. It was also revealed that Burger King’s marketing team had intentionally modified the Wikipedia page beforehand to include promotional language in the snippet read aloud. These edits were also reverted due to Wikipedia’s policies on “shameless self-promotion.”
Google also has disabled the specific ad trigger on their device. This prevents the promotional query from being read and thus ruins the theme of Burger King’s ad. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen media designed to intentionally trigger virtual assistants like Google Home and Amazon Alexa. Judging by the impact this ad had, it certainly won’t be the last.