Headlines were flame-broiled yesterday when Burger King teased a new 15-second commercial on YouTube which, on the surface, looked fairly mundane: a burger flipper holding a 700-calorie sandwich.
But, instead of going on about the sesame seed bun, the guy says, “Ok Google, what is the Whopper burger?”
And those 2 little words, “Ok Google,” caused the internet to explode over privacy concerns and accusations that the restaurant change was trying to hack their personal assistants through the TV.
An overreaction? Sure, probably. But the commercial hit on a sensitivity to the newest wave of IoT technology — even if it was just a weird looking speaker summoning a description from Wikipedia.
But that’s pretty much Burger King’s MO
Over the past 20 years, the King has made waves through controversial ad campaigns pushing the limits of technology.
In 2004, 3 years before Justin Kan started live streaming his life, BK’s ad agency, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, created a simple website that let users order around a creepy “subservient chicken” via webcam.
Five years later, they offered free Whopper coupons to anyone who “sacrificed” 10 of their Facebook friends.
And let’s not forget when the McWhopper collaboration for Peace Day in 2015 took over social media (even though the dream was shot down immediately).
In their minds, any press is good press
Even though Google made quick work of yesterday’s ad, blocking the functionality within a few hours, the campaign was still a massive success.
Think about it. Every media outlet (including us) covered it and everyone with a Google Home within earshot uploaded a video of them “breaking the fourth wall,” as BK president José Cil put it.
Props to them for pushing the envelope, props to the ad agencies who come up with the ideas… but also props to Google for working on multi-user voice identification, so we don’t have to suffer through any more brands treating our Homes like subservient chickens.