Polina is an undergraduate student at Belarusian State Economic University (BSEU) where she is studying at the faculty of International Business Communication for a degree specializing in Intercultural Communication. In her spare time she enjoys drawing, music and travelling.
Burger King ran a TV advertisement this week, which prompted Google’s smart home devices to read Wikipedia’s description of its signature burger.
Fast food giant has tried to force Google Home users to watch their ad by hijacking their connected home appliances.
On Wednesday, the company released a new a 15 seconds commercial in which an employee talks about how it is not enough time to describe all the ingredients included in its Whopper burger. He then comes closer to the camera, saying “Okay Google, what is the Whopper burger?” The question activated Google Home devices urging them to read the burger’s Wikipedia page.
Shortly after the release of the ad, some Internet users tried to edit the Whopper page, providing their own versions, including unflattering ones. Some of the updates include “100 percent rat and toenail clippings”, “100 percent medium-sized child”, and “cyanide” as the burger’s ingredients. However, Wikipedia soon disabled the editing option.
There is no doubt that the ad was specifically created to activate Google Home speakers and make them read the description of the burger.
Three hours after the commercial was published, Google stopped the devices from answering to ad plays by blocking the command for the Whopper. The company has not provided any comments yet and it is unknown what their reaction would be, as Burger King essentially abused Google’s IoT devices for the promotion purposes.
The public reaction to the ad was mixed, with some calling it genius and other saying it invaded users’ privacy. The commercial on YouTube has quickly become popular, gaining over 790 000 views. Still, there are more dislikes under the video than likes.
“Why are people trying to defend and attack an unfunny commercial that isn’t even worthy of being on the Trending page?,” one wrote.
“Wait, why are people mad at this? I’m confused,” another commented.
Smart home device producers have to develop better practices to protect IoT devices from being hijacked. They could, for instance, program appliances to ignore questions from TV and penalize those not meeting the requirements.
According to Rob Enderle, a principal analyst from the Enderle Group, Google should require people to customize their commands, E-Commerce Times reported.
“The idea that a TV ad could generate a mass purchase should scare them more than it does,” he said. “I’m kind of surprised they used Google Home rather than the far more prevalent Amazon Echo.”
Earlier this year, a 6-year-old girl from Dallas asked the Amazon Echo Dot to get her a dollhouse and some cookies. The request was recognized by Alexa as an order and a $160 dollhouse and few pounds of cookies were delivered at her home later. This urged the girl’s parents to install parental controls.