Burger King’s Google Ad Backfires On Fast Food Company

A Burger King ad launched Wednesday attempted to take control of – or hijack, depending on who you speak to – the Google Home devices of customers listening to the commercial by opening with the phrase, “What is the whopper burger?

The clip shows a Burger King employee holding up a whopper, lamenting that the 15-second advertisement does not have enough time to explain the burger, then saying, “Ok Google, what is the whopper burger?”

The ad, as originally designed, would have triggered Google Home devices to pull up the first sentence of Wikipedia’s entry on the whopper burger. Presumably an attempt to capitalize on a number of trends including the Internet of Things, interactive advertisements and the growing trend of home smart devices, the advertisement outraged many Google Home users who felt that it invaded their space and attempted to take control of their device without permission.

As a result of the advertisement, as well, Wikipedia’s whopper page was inundated with vandalism attempts, with users rewriting the first sentence to say offensive and obscene things about the fast food company’s trademark burger. The Verge reported that some users were able to make the advertisement read out the vandalized descriptions of the burgers.

By 3 p.m. Wednesday, Google had added the advertisement to the list of sound commands that do not prompt a response, and the advertisement no longer activated Google Home devices connected over internet servers. Google did not respond to requests for comment, according to the New York Times, except to say that Burger King had not consulted the tech company before launching the ad.

José Cil, Burger King President, said he was not worried about customer response to the advertising, saying that he thought it was a good way to connect to customers. However, many have complained about the advertisement providing the feeling that companies are invading customers’ homes.

The Wikipedia page history for the burger suggests that company executives edited the opening sentence just before launching the ad. Prior to the commercial’s launch, 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.”

Last week, however, the text was changed to “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,” made by user Fermachado123. Burger King’s marketing chief is named Fernando Machado; evidence suggests he edited the sentence ahead of the advertisement.