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Burger King's annoying ad that activated Google Home just won a big industry award

Burger King's recent TV ad that deliberately activated Google Home and Assistant just won a major advertising industry award.

Published onJune 22, 2017

The advertising industry apparently likes the idea of activating voice command-based speakers to help sell products. This week, the 2017 edition of the prestigious Cannes Lions advertising awards gave one of them to Burger King, for an ad that deliberately turned on Google Assistant and Google Home.

You may remember that Burger King first posted this 15 second ad online in April. It showed a Burger King employee who claimed he didn’t have time to list all of the ingredients that go into the ingredients that make up the Whopper. At the end of the spot, he stated, “OK, Google, what is the Whopper burger?” If your Google Home speaker was turned on and listening, it then stated the first lines from the Whopper entry on the Wikipedia site.

This really annoying move caused a few people to selectively update that Whopper Wikipedia page so that when the ad activated Google Home and Assistant again, it might say that the Whopper was in fact a bad hamburger, or something much worse. A few hours after the ad was posted, Google updated Assistant so that it could not respond anymore to that specific Burger King clip. Wikipedia also locked out that page from being edited.

However, that move was enough for the jury at the Cannes Lions awards to give that ad its Grand Prix prize in the Direct category. The jury’s president Ted Lim said the judges were impressed at how the Burger King ad got directly into a person’s living room and messed with people.

The fact that this really irritating ad actually won an award should be troublesome, as it might encourage other companies and agencies to launch similar TV and radio campaigns that activate connected speakers. Let’s get this clear: we don’t want to see any more ads like this. However, you may feel differently.

Are you on board with Burger King’s ad, or are you annoyed with it as well?