Burger King has a whopper of an idea, Google chews it up

Burger King's commercial for its Whopper burger may have troubled Google because it endangered its Home device's reputation as an ad-free digital assistant.  

Wikipedia and Google have a beautiful relationship. Who better to team up other than the world's most prolific search engine and the world's most prolific information resource — it's the hippest power couple since Will and Jada Smith. But here's something that might drive a tiny wedge between the two, and it's a whopper.

Every time you ask Google something, it usually gives the floor dibs to Wikipedia. And now, the both of them may have just discovered that the undemocratically high Page Rank Google accords to Wikipedia may create conditions for hilarious exploitation.

On Wednesday, Burger King released a short ad. Lasting all of 15 seconds, the ingenious clip features a coy BK employee peering conspiratorially into the camera and enunciating: "Ok Google, what is the Whopper burger?"

And boom. Like a hypnotic trigger, the phrase would prompt Google Home smart assistants all over the United States to read out a snappy — if overtly appetising — unsolicited description of Burger King's giant patty variant. Money saved, masses reached, and all that, for Burger King.


What made this ad ingenious is that the Wikipedia entry for 'whopper burger' was edited to have the wiki pop-out read an excerpt from the Product description — "The Whopper is a hamburger, consisting of a flame grilled quarter-pound (113.4 g) beef patty, sesame seed bun, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, pickles, ketchup, and sliced onion." — instead of the first line, which provides rather dry information about the franchise. The Verge suspects, with good reason, that the entry was tampered with by a Burger King official.

Google soon got wind of this, and bowdlerised the phrase from its search engine so that Google Home would no longer respond to it. The Verge, among others, tested the ad out to find that the phrase was no longer doing it for Home.

Vulnerable Wiki

Shortly after the ad aired, online users took to making their own edits to the now infamous wiki entry, adding their own creative — if repulsive — descriptives to the Whopper, the least offensive of them being a reference to "toenails".

Soon, Wikipedia too locked the entry from being edited by unauthorised admin. But not before references to "cyanide", "cancer-causing", and "The Whopper is the worst hamburger product sold by the international fast-food restaurant chain Burger King" made their way into it.

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Printable version | Jul 28, 2021 5:11:18 AM |

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