Imagine sitting at home on your couch, watching television, and a rather innocuous advertisement from Burger King comes on. A young male Burger King employee looks directly into the camera and tells you that 15 seconds isn’t enough time to explain all the ingredients in the Whopper sandwich. The camera pulls in close, and he says, “Okay Google, what is the Whopper burger?”
The Google Home device near your TV will then respond, “The Whopper is a burger, consisting of a flame-grilled patty made with 100% beef with no preservatives or fillers, topped with sliced tomatoes, onions, lettuce, pickles, ketchup, and mayonnaise, served on a sesame-seed bun.” That is the first sentence for the Wikipedia entry for the Whopper.
It is also an advanced (and a bit creepy) new twist in the future of advertising for brands like Burger King, which is a fast-food concept owned by Restaurant Brands (RTBRF). Burger King says the new ad is a national campaign that will intentionally trigger the artificial intelligence technology of Google Home devices to search “Whopper Sandwich.”
Burger King says it is the first time ever that a traditional 15 second TV ad will be extended by the voice activation of Google Home devices. Saying “Okay Google” would also trigger a response from Android-powered phone and tablets. The ad was developed by Burger King’s internal team and agency partners. Google wasn’t involved.
The in-home Whopper ad is also an indication that more non-traditional advertising could extend to the home via both Google and Amazon’s (AMZN) in-home smart speaker Echo (which is powered by Alexa). There had been speculation earlier this year that Google Home had allowed some form of advertising to slip into the system when some users noticed the device casually mentioned that Disney’s (DIS) Beauty and The Beast was in theaters—even though users reported they hadn’t searched for that film recently. Google said it wasn’t intended to be an ad.
The Burger King ad, meanwhile, points toward the trend of restaurants espousing the freshness of their ingredients. Fast-food players especially like to hit that theme hard, as there is a perception that the foods they use are a bit subpar in quality. Comparable sales for Burger King’s U.S. business grew a slim 1.1% in 2016, with results bolstered in part by the launch of the more premium-priced Bacon King and a pancake promotion to boost the breakfast business. Though the growth was modest, it outpaced the overall restaurant category, which saw a dip in traffic last year.