You might think you’re the master of your own home, controlling all the internet-connected devices within it and bending them to your will with the touch of a button or an uttered command. But Burger King is trying to sneak into your home through the TV with a new ad that tries to trigger the voice-activated Google Home.
This week, the fast food chain launched a new 15-second TV commercial that attempts to wake up any Google Home devices that may be in the room and thus, continue the ad after it’s technically over.
“You’re watching a 15-second Burger King ad, which is unfortunately not enough time to explain all the fresh ingredients in the Whopper sandwich,” an actor dressed like a Burger King worker says in the spot. “But I got an idea,” he adds, uttering Google Home’s wake word as the camera gets closer. “OK Google, what is the Whopper burger?”
Burger King hopes that if your device is close enough to the TV, it’ll wake up, search the internet, and then spit out a list of its ingredients — whether you want to hear them or not.
(Here’s where you should turn off your Google Home if you don’t want it chiming in)
To Burger King, capitalizing on the popularity of voice-activated devices like Google Home and Amazon’s Echo sounds like a great idea, of course, and not at all creepy.
“We think about our guests’ perception and their perspective on how we interact with them, but on balance we felt this was a really positive way to connect with them,” José Cil, president of Burger King, told The New York Times. He adds that the company sees it as a good way to “tell a story” about their product directly to consumers.
Google confirmed to the NYT that it wasn’t involved in creating Burger’s King ad, but declined to comment further.
The Burger King’s siege of your Google Home device seems to be the first time a major advertiser has actively tried to hijack a connected device without the viewer’s approval.
Until now, the focus has largely been on trying to convince viewers to engage: Use Shazam when a show or ad plays a song; scan a QR code that pops up on the screen; use some app that syncs additional content to whatever you’re watching, etc.
In fact, the problem with voice-activated devices has been getting them to not react to what they hear on TV. There was the Xbox One commercial where the dulcet tones of Aaron Paul could trigger your gaming console.
More recently there was the San Diego news reporter who inadvertently directed viewers’ Amazon Alexa devices to place dollhouse orders while she was doing a report on a little girl who’d ordered $160 worth of cookies and a dollhouse through Alexa without telling her parents.
UPDATE: The Associated Press reports that the internet has already been having some fun with Burger King: Some Wikipedia users have been editing the Whopper’s page to include ingredients like cyanide, and defining the Whopper as “the worst hamburger product” sold by the chain. It appears those edits have already been changed back.