Why Is This Burger King Commercial Causing So Many Complaints?

Thursday, 13 April 2017
by Graham Pierrepoint -

It doesn’t appear to have been a very successful year for mainstream TV advertising so far – one look at Pepsi’s recent disaster where Kendall Jenner joined a peaceful protest to offer a cop a can of carbonated pop should tell all, particularly after it was torn apart on Twitter and derided in the press – and it seems that Burger King’s latest ad, while interesting, has gotten people’s backs up once again. This time, however, it’s not due to a celebrity cameo or a misjudged act – it’s the fact that it’s intentionally activating certain smartphones.

Anyone with the Google Home app installed on their phones and tablets may be subject to the fast food chain’s new TV commercial requesting that their devices search for the Whopper burger and read its description from Wikipedia aloud – only those, of course, who have voice search activated, are affected. However, for many people, it has resulted in their phones and devices waking up as a result of the voice command – which, it appears, was intentional. In discussion with BuzzFeed News, Burger King head Jose Cil advised that the technology provided the firm with a chance to ‘punch through that fourth wall’, and that it would be a ‘cool way to connect directly with our guests’.

Burger King's controversial commercial (BURGER KING® | Connected Whopper®)

The firm’s prospective guests, however, appear to have other ideas. The ad has been waking up and activating phones of viewers who have complained about the intrusive nature of the ads, leading many to wonder just how much worth this type of advertising actually holds – beyond that, it is perhaps clear why several manufacturers are working hard to develop devices and apps that distinguish between certain voices – otherwise, this type of activation could be used maliciously, and not just for advertising purposes.

This appears to be the first time that an ad has ever intentionally targeted phones with voice recognition software, though it is far from the first to wake up devices. Microsoft’s 2014 Xbox ad campaign, featuring actor Aaron Paul, resulted in the accidental activation of hundreds of devices following the star speaking the power-on command in the commercial. Therefore, is it to be expected that this type of advertisement becomes commonplace in the near future? It’s hard to say – with the Burger Kind ad supposedly still running at the time of writing, it will simply be a matter of seeing just how many more devices are woken up to read aloud what Wikipedia has to say on the Whopper!

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