This week’s news about a Burger King ad gimmick is a great lesson about technology: just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.
Somewhere in an ad agency conference room, someone must have thought it was a great idea.
From there, things went downhill quickly.
Burger King unveiled a new television ad Wednesday that was designed to hijack viewers’ Google Home devices: the phrasing of the ad would activate the device, prompting it to suddenly begin reading a long, newly-edited Wikipedia listing on the Whopper, Burger King’s trademark burger.
The Wikipedia entry on the Whopper had, of course, been edited just in time for the ad to make sure everyone knew how great the Whopper actually is.
The ad featured a man in a Burger King uniform who leans towards the camera and says, “OK Google, what is the Whopper burger?” That was enough to make people’s Google Home start talking.
Verve put it best:
It’s a clever way of getting viewers’ attention, but it’s also a really quick way of getting on viewers’ nerves…
Give Burger King’s ad folk an A for creativity…and an F for completely failing to put themselves in their customers’ place, which kept them from seeing not only how annoying this could be, but also how quickly their own cleverness could be used to bite them right in the…whopper.
Verve also reported that shortly after the ad’s Wednesday debut, Wikipedia users decided to get their revenge by re-editing the Whopper entry, including phrases like “cancer causing” and adding non-appetizing things like “rat” and “toenail clippings” to the ingredients list.
Give the angry users an A+ for creativity and an A+ for payback.
In the end, cooler heads prevailed: Google was able to block the phrase from activating its devices within less than three hours of the ad’s debut, and Wikipedia was able to lock down the original Whopper listing so no one besides moderators were able to make further edits on the fly.
If Google were to really seek revenge, it might make sure Burger King is listed at the bottom of search listings for a while. I hope Burger King at least thought about sending the internet king a nice apology.