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People Are Complaining That Amazon Echo Is Responding to Ads on TV

"Alexa, play my holiday playlist."

by Matthew Braga
Dec 4 2015, 8:00pm

Image: Amazon

In June, Amazon made its always-listening personal assistant Echo available to all. It's a neat little device—basically, Siri in a cylinder—but not without its quirks.

According to one couple on Twitter, their Amazon Echo lit up on Thursday night, not in response to their voice, but a voice the device heard on TV. Amazon apparently ran a holiday ad featuring Echo during last night's NBC broadcast of The Wiz Live!, and during the commercial, an actor asked an Amazon Echo to "Play my holiday playlist"—which the couple's Amazon Echo did as well.

"Ours lit up and started playing Christmas music. We just laughed, told it to stop (we're not fans of Christmas music) and tweeted a screenshot," Danielle Alberti wrote me in an email.

Her husband, David Masad, posted a screenshot of Twitter showing that their Echo had interpreted the audio from the commercial as a command.

Alberti told me that they submitted a support ticket to Amazon shortly thereafter. "I will clarify that we actually love our Echo," she wrote in her email, "We got it in the beta test and regularly submit feedback for it because we think it has a lot of utility, but certainly some kinks to work out."

Not longer after, Alberti said, a member of the Echo support team named Brandon H emailed back.

"We are working to stop the commercials from setting off Alexa's [sic] I know it can be quite annoying," wrote an Amazon employee named Brandon H. "Mine has gone off several times to this and we have brought it up to our developers."

The situation isn't the first time this sort of thing has happened. Microsoft's Xbox One was the subject of similar reports, after the company ran television advertisements for its console's voice command functionality.

We've reached out to Amazon for comment, and will update this post if we hear back.

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