Whoppers, Wikipedia, and Google oh My!

whoppersThere are a lot of people angry about a clever advertising campaign created by Burger King for Whoppers that uses our connected technology in an innovative way. I’m not as upset as everyone else, I think it’s pretty cool. Heavy-handed certainly, but it demonstrates possibilities.

What the executives at 3G Capital, owners of Burger King, authorized was a combined arms attack. The technologically savvy among us know that many people have devices that respond to voice commands. The executives authorized an advertising campaign that starts with the phrase, “Ok Google.” This command triggers anyone’s android device to assume it is the target of the communication. The advertisement then asks, “What is the Whopper Burger?”. This further prompts the device to search Wikipedia for Whopper Burger.

Staff writers at 3G Capital had prepared for the advertisement by editing the Wikipedia page to include an ingredient list for the Whopper.
Most of the world – Horror.

Me – Coolio!

The basic idea is strong. Advertisers are trying to reach their intended target. The person who owns the electronic device suddenly sees a picture of a mouth-watering Whopper on the screen. Some of them investigate the ingredient list, a few are hungry, and some small percentage head on over to Burger King to get some food.

There are problems here. The usurpation of someone else’s device and the editing of your own content on Wikipedia. If the advertisers had simply shown a little more deftness, all would have been fine.

The advertisement should have instructed the user to ask their device about the new and wonderful Whopper. 3G Capital should have released information about their product publicly and waited for the Wikipedia page to be updated organically. Basically, have a person monitoring the Wikipedia page until the desired change appears, then release the advertisement.

This strategy allows advertisers to reach their target audience and, this is the important thing, those who want to eat the new Whopper are made aware of its existence before they normally might have been. I can certainly think of a few improvements to this strategy right off the top of my head. Direct users to the website where a coupon resides, show the Wikipedia page on your device to servers at Burger King for the next hour and get a free Whopper with your purchase, I’m certain creative people can come up with more such ideas.

There is a lot of anti-advertisement sentiment in the world but there is nothing wrong with making people aware of a product they wish to purchase. No one buys anything under some sort of hypnotic spell engendered by the advertisement. We have laws against false advertising and that’s a good thing.

I love that targeted advertisement is aware of my search habits and offers me up choices that match said queries. I’ve been alerted to any number of price discounts through this sort of direct marketing. I see nothing wrong with a business informing their consumers of various products that might be of interest.

When I browse Facebook, I don’t see advertisements for women’s products. Why? I’m not a woman. I’m not interested in such things. It benefits us all when advertisements are targeted, both company and individual.

Sure, this foray was a bit brutish, but it’s a sign of things to come. I say that in a good way.

Tom Liberman

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