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Google Home won't let Burger King have it its way

Commentary: A new commercial tries to trigger Google's smart speaker into talking about Whoppers. But the trick doesn't last for long.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


OK, BK. You sure about this?

Burger King/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Please admit it.

You dream of your gadgets being able to interact with each other. That way, you can concentrate on eating and your gadgets can do all the thinking.

How helpful, then, of Burger King's new TV ad to deliberately trigger your Google Home to tell you all about its no-doubt sumptuous Whopper.

In the ad, a kindly young burger-maker explains that the commercial is a mere 15 seconds. This isn't enough time to explain just how wonderful the Whopper is.

So he resorts to: "OK Google, what is the Whopper burger?"

Anyone possessed of a Google Home device (or, indeed, a Google Pixel or other Android phone or tablet) will leap for joy. Or, at least, leap. For their device will come to life and offer the Wikipedia description of a Whopper. That should make you want to rush out and get one, surely.

However, the trick didn't last for long.

Just hours after the ad was released Wednesday, reports surfaced that Google had disabled the Home-spun effects of the ad. CNET has since confirmed that the ad no longer triggers the device. Google didn't immediately respond to our request for confirmation that it disabled the trigger.

Earlier Wednesday, Google did confirm it had no involvement in the making of this oeuvre. This isn't surprising after a few Google Home owners got upset when the company started serving "Beauty and the Beast" ads from its little gadget.

Burger King didn't respond to a request for comment on the ad.

So will this ad, if it ends up working as intended, delight its Google Home-owning audience? Will it annoy all those entirely sensible people who still live without one of these home helpers? Will it incite Amazon to demand its own version for Alexa?

And then there's the slightly curious wording of "What is the Whopper burger?" Well, this gets Burger King the Google search result it wants.

The more natural "What is a whopper?" gets you results about unusual largeness and, yes, lies.

There is, of course, an even bigger problem. Won't those traditionally sensitive iPhone owners sue Burger King for discrimination?

First published April 12, 11:21 a.m. PT.
Update, 2:09 p.m. PT: To include that the ad no longer triggers the device.

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