Home of the Whopper Fail?
“Okay Google, what is the Whopper Burger?”
And that is how the gauntlet was thrown down on the new battlefield yesterday for garnering advertising eyes…errr, ears… in the home assistant device age.
The very same company that encouraged Facebookers to delete their Facebook friends just to get a free burger, and whose mascot who strangly appeared in the corridor with Justin Bieber just before the Manny Pacquiao/Floyd Mayweather fight, has taken guerrilla marketing into the AI age.
First, a little on how Google Home works. Like it’s progenitor, Google Home has a trigger phrase whereby it starts to listen to its owner. In Google’s case, it’s “Okay Google…” followed by the person’s request.
So Burger King figured it would get some free digital media by building some TV ads that made a call out to the Google Home device, whereby it said “Okay Google, what is the Whopper burger?”
To which one would logically ask, from whence came the answer?
In Burger King’s case, reports The Verge, they decided to use the Wikipedia entry, which Burger King apparently edited to read as follows:
“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.”
– via The Verge
Never mind the fact, The Verge observes, that it sounds an awful lot like ad copy, or that just about anybody (Ronald McDonald, anyone?) could go and edit it on a whim.
To make this even more “meta,” the “Whopper Burger” Wikipedia entry now has a reference to this whole escapade:
On April 12, 2017, Burger King released a new commercial, in which an employee states that he had to find a different way to explain a Whopper because they only had 15 seconds, after which he states “OK Google, what is the Whopper burger?”. The dialogue was designed to trigger voice searches on Android devices and Google Home smart speakers configured to automatically respond to the phrase “OK Google”. The specific query causes the device to read out a snippet sourced from Wikipedia’s article on the Whopper. However, prior to the ad’s premiere, the article had been edited by a user who was believed to have ties to the company, so that Google’s automatically-generated response to the query would be a detailed description of the Whopper burger that utilized promotional language. The edits were reverted for violating Wikipedia’s policies discouraging “shameless self-promotion”. Furthermore, the snippet became the target of vandalism; at one point, the relevant section listed the sandwich’s ingredients as including “rat meat” and “toenail clippings”, and some users reported that Google Home had relayed information from vandalized revisions. A few hours later, Google disabled the ability for the ad to trigger automatic voice detection on these devices, preventing the promotional query from being read. Wikipedia also semi-protected the Whopper article to prevent the promotional descriptions or vandalism from being re-inserted.
– via en.wikipedia.org
I kind of gave away the denouement there at the end — Google caught on to the cunning King of the Burger and, before it could spend all that money from all those hard-earned Whoppers on its TV media buy, whose spots would set Google Home assistants a burgerin’ across the country, Google disabled the ability for the ad to trigger the automatic voice detection.
“Okay Burger King, what do you do now???”
I guess they can just bask in the glory of their short-lived PR stunt, which brought far more attention to the Whopper than any Google Home assistant was ever likely to land.
Then again, the ultimate joke may just be on Google. The good Burger King PR for being so clever could very well rub off negatively on the broader home assistant market.
Burger King, I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a Google Home assistant today.
And for the record, all this craziness is precisely why I bought the Amazon Tap, the device that we humans have to hit a button to actually turn the thing on.
You know, that old-fashioned idea of the man actually controlling the machine?