Burger King Releases New Ad That Activates Google Home Devices

“Okay Google, what is the Whopper burger?”

Burger King

Well, we all knew this was coming. The question was who would do it first.

This week, the fast food chain launched a new 15-second TV commercial that attempts to wake up any Google Home devices that may be in the room and thus, continue the ad after it’s technically over.

Since smart home assistants like Google Home or Amazon Echo/Alexa are programmed to respond to specific voice commands, the Burger King ad uses the phrase “Okay Google, what is the Whopper burger?” to activate Google Home devices and get them to spit out information about the Whopper.

Here’s the ad. If you have a Google Home device in the room, let us know if it responds:

The ad is even more insidious than it first appears. You know how Google shows you ads based on what you search for? Well, now you’re on record as having searched for information about the Whopper, even though you probably didn’t. By activating your Google Home device, Burger King may be subtly influencing the number of Burger King ads you see in the future.

It’s a terrible idea—and I bet we’ll see it again soon.

UPDATE: Google Home devices no longer respond to the ad:

The ad, released Wednesday, features an actor dressed as a Burger King employee, who says, “Okay, Google: What is the Whopper burger?” The line is meant to trigger the device to reel off the definition of a Whopper using the first line of the burger’s Wikipedia page. (Yes, the Whopper has its own Wikipedia page.)
Roughly three hours after the ad launched, the ad stopped working. Google’s Home would only light up in response to the commercial’s prompt and stay mum (although it will give you the first line of the Wikipedia article if you explicitly request the definition of a “Whopper burger”).

Why did the ad stop working? It might have to do with Wikipedia being a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit—and yes, the Wikipedia entry for the Whopper burger was almost immediately edited to include text that was not complimentary towards the the Burger King brand.

But I’m more interested in learning how everyone’s Google Home devices simultaneously learned that they were not to respond to that prompt. That’s almost as unnerving as the original Burger King commercial.