Google was quick to shut down a Burger King Whopper ad that tried to bite into the company’s smart-home technology this week.
Breaking the fourth wall, a Burger King employee holding a more-delicious-than-real-life looking Whopper — the fast-food chain’s signature burger — told listeners, “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.”
But fear not consumers, this resourceful Burger King worker had a plan.
“OK Google,” he said, camera zooming in for a close up, “What is the Whopper burger?”
The phrase was designed to hijack Google Home devices in living rooms across America. The Google Home is a smart home gadget similar to the Amazon Echo that plays music and answers basic questions for its owners. One of its functions allows it to look up information and definitions via the internet, queue a lengthy description of the “Whopper burger” here.
Presumably the unlucky Google Home owners’ televisions would have continued playing as their Google Home started spouting out Wikipedia’s description of the Whopper, creating a garbled mess of indiscernible noise, but maybe that’s what Burger King was going for?
Google wasn’t playing that game though. The tech giant reportedly only took three hours to disable the Burger King ad’s functionality, The Verge reported. Google most likely registered the sound clip from the ad to disable unwanted Home triggers, which it does with its own Google Home commercials.
The in-home devices like Echo and Google Home have had a couple of snafus thanks to the voice-activated features. There was that one time when a 6-year-old in Dallas asked her family’s Amazon Echo, “Can you play dollhouse with me and get me a dollhouse?”
Alexa, the Siri-like voice behind the device complied, ordering a $170 dollhouse and 400 pounds of sugar cookies.
The story didn’t end there though. A San Diego local morning news show picked it up and when the anchor said, “I love the little girl, saying ‘Alexa ordered me a dollhouse,’” it triggered a number of devices in homes across the region, which in turn ordered a number of dollhouses.
Fortunately smart home device owners do have the option to add purchasing codes and turn off the mic on their gadgets to prevent these things from happening.