What can you do when your ad can only have the limited 15 seconds spot?
Burger King has the answer—ask Google to explain it for you.
In their recent television ad, Burger King and their award-winning agency, David, decided to twist the use of technologically-advanced Google Home for their advantages. The ad began with a simple introduction from their employee in the pantry. But as time was limited, he didn’t get any chance to explain any further and start asking for Google’s help. “Okay Google, what is a Whopper Burger?”
Play the video below to see Burger King’s “Connected Whopper” ad.
While you might be saved from their connected advertisment, many homes in USA equipped with Google Home were involuntarily subjected to it. The command “Okay Google, …” given by the end of the ad would automatically trigger Google Voice Command option in the automated device.
Your Google Home devices will then began reciting Wikipedia’s definition of a Whopper.
“According to Wikipedia, the Whopper is a burger consisting of a flame-grilled patty made with 100% medium-sized child with no preservatives or fillers topped with sliced tomatoes, onions, lettuce, cyanide, pickles, ketchup, and mayonnaise served on a sesame seed bun.”
What? A medium-sized child and cyanide? Did I read it wrong?
You did not read it wrong. I kid you not.
Appearantly Burger King had the page edited to an ad copy just before it was aired. However, just a few minutes after, people began to play along and tweaked the page a little. The results, documented by Campaignlive.co.uk, can be read as follows:
- “The ‘Whopper’ is the worst hamburger product sold by the international fast-food restaurant chain Burger King.”
- “The Whopper is a burger, consisting of a flame-grilled patty made with 100% medium-sized child with no preservatives or fillers, topped with sliced tomatoes, onions, lettuce, cyanide, pickles, ketchup, and mayonnaise, served on a sesame-seed bun.”
- “[The Whopper] has undergone several reformulations including resizing and bread changes, yet it remains far inferior to the Big Mac.”
Its massive public response had forced Google to disable its functions just two hours after it’s launch. They programmed Google Home to detect a sound clip from Burger King’s ad so it won’t be processed as a voice command. However, poeple can still command Google Home to look for information on the Whopper by asking “Okay Google, what is a Whopper Burger?”
The Wikipedia page was also later fixed with its original definition of the Whopper.
Many consider this 15 seconds ad as a failure on Burger King’s part. Some even compared it to Pepsi’s ad and United’s crisis communications failures. Well I, for once, am in opposition of the public view.
From my point of view, it was very clear that Burger King’s ad response was deliberate. The agency, WPP’s David, is known to be one of Burger King’s award-winning agency that made numerous scorings in Cannes Lions. Just a few months before, Burger King was named as Marketer of the Year by Cannes Lions for their outstanding ideas, with many of them were the works of David.
And the most important thing, it was not a failure.
At least on Burger King’s part. If anything, it was a failure on Google’s part that couldn’t anticipate such glitch in their product. People are getting more hesitant nowadays in buying Google Home because of Burger King’s ad, but is it their problem?
No. It was a crisis for Google to handle.
What about the false information mentioned before?
If you think the mentioned Wikipedia description would stop people from going to Burger King, you really haven’t seen their customers.
Burger King has been a long established brand in USA, and the brand doesn’t need to be introduced anymore. Almost everyone in the US would know what a Whopper is. And they also know about the long running feud between Burger King and the other fast-food chain giant, McDonald’s.
When someone receive information on a brand, he/whe would directly relate it with his/her experiences, and compare it as seen fit. In Burger King’s case, as everyone had already known their Whopper, they would relate it with the information they previously known and their own experiences. Furthermore, their target are the tech-savvy owners of Google Home, who are mostly consisted of well-educated people. These people do not feed off any information they come through.
It’s like this—Would you believe me if I said McDonald’s ice cream is made of lamb’s heart? Yup, I don’t think so.
And after all, if we take a hard look on the edited descriptions, it can be seen that most of them were made in a humorous manner. People had fun adapting Whopper’s Wikipedia page, and that was what Burger King was looking for—an activation by inducing further interaction between customer and their brand.
So what was their goal and was it effective?
Advertising can only go to the level of awareness, and in Burger King’s recent ad, its goal is to induce brand recall. In this case, it was highly effective.
As most Americans already know what a Whopper is, and had tasted it at least once in their lifetimes, they only need to be reminded. This is what we call brand recall—inducing customers’ knowledge and experiences through brand elements. Burger King had succeeded greatly in this because they managed to remind people of its Whopper and its indulging taste, made them interested in finding out more through a humorous manner, and increased social conversations significantly.
Didn’t Google cut them short?
Yes, but honestly it was way too predictable. It is impossible for an agency as established as David to not know that Google will cut them short. Two hours is just enough time to make a massive-scaled activation.
Several public review in media, mainly that does not specializes on advertising, still considers the ad as a failure. Campaignlive.co.uk, for example, dubbed Burger King as the first brand to fail on Google Home. The condition forced Burger King to make a public statement as can be seen here.
Burger King saw an opportunity to do something exciting with the emerging technology of intelligent personal assistant devices. The brand has developed a national ad campaign that could trigger guests who have enabled voice commands on their smart speaker technology. For the first time ever, a traditional :15 second television ad will be extended by the voice activation of enabled home assistant devices – essentially breaking the 4th wall. Burger King saw a 300% increase in social conversation on Twitter yesterday compared to the day before.
The public impression on Burger King dispersed. But one clear thing is this—that Burger King had managed to hijacked the world’s biggest tech company.