Last night Burger King released a new ad, in which a fresh-faced lad bemoans the brevity of his commercial spot but then triggers Google Homes to read the definition of a Whopper to viewers:
As The Verge has pointed out, the amount of people for whom this probably worked is incredibly small—they would need to have cable and a Google Home near each other and watching it when this aired with the volume set at an appropriate level to pick up the demand. Nevertheless, it’s a creepy, fourth-wall-breaking stunt that invades viewer’s homes, and netted the expected immediate outrage online.
In order to make the ad work, however, Burger King had to first change Wikipedia’s definition of the Whopper to read the marketing copy: “a burger, consisting of a flame-grilled patty made with 100 percent beef with no preservatives or fillers, topped with sliced tomatoes, onions, lettuce, pickles, ketchup, and mayonnaise, served on a sesame-seed bun.” This was done under the user name Fermachado123, which is also what Burger King marketing exec Fernando Machado goes by on Twitter. Whether or not it was him is sort of moot; the entire thing is designed to go viral, and it has, but those very techniques can also be used to subvert it.
Shortly after the ad premiered, people were changing the Wikipedia definition to subvert Burger King’s aim. As SPIN notes, it was first changed from Burger King’s “signature” burger to its “worst” burger, then dubbed a “cancer-causing” burger. Later it was described as “a juicy 100 percent rat meat and toenail clipping hamburger product” and then rejiggered, as captured by Business Insider, to this:
As of press time, it has this clinical definition:
So: Who’s hungry for a registered global trademark?