Digital assistants don’t just pick up commands from their owners; voices on the TV can also trigger a task. Several people learned this the hard way when a news anchor said “Alexa ordered me a dollhouse” during a news report; several viewers had to cancel Amazon orders for dollhouses.
Knowing this, Burger King tried to use it to their advantage. One of their latest commercials ends with the words “Ok Google: What is the Whopper Burger?”
(If you’re reading this on the Komando.com app, click here to watch the Burger King commercial.)
Was this a creative commercial? I think so. Was this a well-thought out idea? Maybe not.
The problem is that Google Homes search the web or literally “Google” the answers to questions. Whenever you Google a particular topic, the main answer in the top right section of the screen tends to be an answer from Wikipedia.
Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia, created and edited by volunteers around the world and hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation.
The key words here are “edited by volunteers,” meaning that anybody can change the text on a Wikipedia page. And that’s exactly what several pranksters did to the “Whopper” Wikipedia page! As a result, Google Homes started telling people the Whopper contains rat meat, toenails and cyanide.
Not only did this ad backfire by spreading the wrong information, but it also upset some customers. Some Twitter users vowed to get rid of their digital assistant devices if companies begin to trigger unwanted advertisements.
One way to avoid this sort of issue in the future could be to change your device’s wake word. Unfortunately, Google Homes only answer to “Ok Google” and “Hey Google.” With Amazon Alexa devices, you do have a few more options. Click here to learn how to change Alexa’s wake word.
Update: As of this writing, it looks like Google has already blocked the Burger King commercial from triggering Google Homes.