Late to the party but this is a classic. In an attempt to be cute, Burger King recently debuted an ad to troll the technologically advanced Google Home. The advertisement was deliberately designed to set off Google Home devices in households across the nation.
Using the signature command phrase, “Okay Google…,” the devices will respond to any prompt they are given even if it comes from a commercial on your television. In theory, this probably sounded like an intriguing idea. However, the actual execution didn’t quite get the reaction they intended. Turns out people find flooding their home with unwanted advertising a bit invasive if not at minimum abundantly annoying. But consumers weren’t the only ones displeased with the ad.
Google is super pissed and I love it. You know those same people who track all of our basic information and create a full profile of everyone on the planet. Yeah, they’re upset for a supposedly invasive maneuver by a global corporation. Within hours of the initial airing of the ad, the Google Home was reprogrammed to ignore the prompt. What a bunch of crybabies. No one can deny that Google is the g.o.a.t of the internet but they need to chill on this one. Google babe, I love you but all the fake outrage is unattractive. Honestly, they probably secretly dig all the P.R. Like they say, there is no such thing as bad publicity. They’re probably just upset that someone exploited them without throwing any cash their way.
This whole scenario reminded me of a couple examples of advertising ideas that were good in theory but didn’t pan out. Remember when U2 decided to download their new album onto everyone in America’s iPhone without permission? Nice try Bono, but if I wanted your album, I would’ve illegally downloaded it on my own time. Apple hasn’t allowed anything like that to happen since.
Perhaps an even more closely related example comes from the summer 2016 film Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. For those who don’t know, this film was intended to be a parody on the music industry and crazy gimmicks celebrities use. Main character Connor 4 Real uses appliance company Aquaspin to have his album uploaded to millions of appliances across the country. Every time someone opened their refrigerator or microwave, one of his songs would play.
Again, it sounded great in theory but did not get a positive result. Not only did consumers hate the invasion but the simultaneous playing of his songs caused a nationwide power outage. I get that it’s a movie but the metaphor remains, unnecessarily invasive technology equals a poor result.
In a world where inside the box thinking is the norm, gotta love the attempt by BK to try something new. Furthermore, I love the way they threw shade on Google. This ad basically exposed the vulnerabilities in new technology. That’s awesome. We need more of that. But at the same time I feel like this probably wasn’t the best way to treat consumers. Spoiler alert: people don’t like being annoyed. Commercials are annoying enough, no need to escalate that shit. It was a glorious attempt but let’s try to tone it down next time.