TV advert makes Amazon Alexa order cat food

Occurred: February 2018

A TV ad for Amazon's Echo Dot smart speaker caused a viewer's device to try to order Purina cat food, which the user had to cancel. Amazon confirmed the order was triggered, but noted that the order needs to be confirmed to actually happen. 

The incident persuaded the viewer to lodge a complaint with the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) alleging that the ad was irresponsible as it caused their Echo Dot to order cat food. 

The ASA ruled the advert was not in breach of the UK advertising code, and that Amazon had updated Alexa to automatically cancel any orders that had not been actively confirmed by the customer.

Developer: Amazon
Country: UK
Sector: Consumer goods
Purpose: Provide information, services
Technology: NLP/text analysis; Natural language understanding (NLU); Speech recognition
Issue: Accuracy/reliability
Transparency: Governance

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: March 2023