Burger King's successfully hijacked people's Google Home speakers on Wednesday night, and ad industry experts say it's just an early warning for the advertising invasion headed for our voice-activated devices.
"It's an idea whose time had come," said Allen Adamson, an industry veteran and the founder of BrandSimple Consulting.
In case you missed the beef that unfolded yesterday, in short: Burger King announced an upcoming 15-second TV ad designed to trigger voice-activated Google Home devices to read out Wikipedia's description of its Whopper burger. The internet wasn't impressed — people first began editing the Whopper's Wikipedia entry to say it contains cyanide and a "medium-sized child." Within hours, Google, which was not consulted by Burger King for the campaign, appeared to shut down the ad, with Google Home devices no longer responding to its audio cue.
Then Burger King figured out a way to work around Google's block. When the ad aired on Jimmy Kimmel Live on Wednesday night, it successfully set off Google Home devices.
"Burger King deployed another very similar commercial that could trigger the smart speaker technology last night on Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon," a spokesperson for Burger King told BuzzFeed News in an email Thursday.
Google did not respond to a request for comment.
It's hard to hear it all, but this how I experienced the Burger King commercial in my living room last night.
The actual experience did not exactly register as a tidy burger ad. While the commercial did trigger Google Home to start reading out a description of the Whopper, between the time and weather announcement sponsored by TD Bank, and the clip from Armie Hammer's new movie, all I caught was some mumbling about a quarter pound beef patty and a sesame seed bun.
The recital may not have done much for Whopper sales — and the Google Home is not a particularly popular device to begin with — but the ad certainly garnered a lot of interest. The original clip on YouTube has been viewed almost a million times since it went online yesterday.
But the stunt is likely to be just the beginning. As voice-activation is added to more gadgets, marketers will be looking for ways to use it to their benefit.
While some consumers will find this kind of advertising novel, "for most, it will be annoying. These are personal devices," said Adamson. "They last thing they want is advertisers on it."
Venessa Wong is a business reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Wong covers the food industry.
Contact Venessa Wong at email@example.com.
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