An Amazon Echo owner has tried to get a television advertising campaign for the smart speaker banned after the Alexa virtual assistant attempted to order cat food when it heard its name on an ad.
An Amazon TV ad for the Echo Dot, which can perform functions such as make shopping lists and play music with voice commands, features people using the device in different situations. In one a man’s voice says: “Alexa, reorder Purina cat food.” Alexa responds: “I’ve found Purina cat food. Would you like to buy it?”
A viewer lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), saying that the ad was irresponsible because it caused their Echo Dot to order cat food. Amazon confirmed that the complainant’s device did place an order for the cat food but it had been cancelled by the customer.
Amazon said it was aware of the potential issue and “marks” ads so that Alexa is not triggered. In addition, customers are required to confirm a purchase, which is automatically cancelled if they do not do so, the company said.
Earlier this month Amazon used its technology to stop devices from interacting with its Super Bowl TV spot, which featured celebrities including Gordon Ramsay, Rebel Wilson and Anthony Hopkins taking over from Alexa when she “loses her voice”.