How the Burger King Google ad went all to hell

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

17 April 2017

The Burger King Google was a good idea. But it went all kablooey.

Sometimes bad execution thwarts a great idea. The idea behind Burger King Google ad was fabulous. Turns out, the execution…not so much.

In case you didn’t hear, Burger King ran an ad that triggered Google Home when it asked, “OK Google, what is the Whopper burger?” When coming from your TV, the “OK Google” prompt turns on Google Home and answers the question. (For the Amazon Echo, the prompt word is “Alexa.”)

“In this case, the entry read that the Whopper contains cyanide and is cancer causing. Well shit. Guess BK should’ve better understood how Google Home works and what the BK Wikipedia entry actually says.”

The idea is practically genius. Practically. When I first heard about the Burger King Google spot, Google had already taken precautions by inserting the audio file into its internal blacklist so the ad wouldn’t trigger its devices. Generally, I’m fond of that kind of guerrilla marketing because it tells audiences that you’re different.

Then the Burger King Google ad turned into a turd

But here’s where the execution went wrong. For one thing, when asked that type of question, Google Home and Amazon Echo often call up the Wikipedia entry to answer. In this case, the entry read that the Whopper contains cyanide and is cancer causing. Well shit. Guess BK should’ve better understood how Google Home works and what the BK Wikipedia entry actually says.

That’s not the biggest miscue, however. Guerrilla marketing only works if your brand has permission for it. If your brand truly says you are different and better, a little out there and willing to take risks. Then guerrilla marketing becomes more important and meaningful.

Burger King is the opposite of that. No one in the fast food industry is more of a follower than BK. No one switches out menu items as much as BK, hoping something would work.

More damaging, I don’t even know what the Burger King brand even means. I guess it’s just “burgers.” But it also has echoes of a failure. Its sales have peaked a bit, overtaking Wendy’s for second place in the fast food market. But it could actually take on McDonalds’ market leadership if its brand actually meant something.

And if that brand meant something that would help the Burger King Google ad make sense. In the end, all the ad means is desperation.

See more posts in the following related categories: Burger King Google wendys Wikipedia

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