Google and the largest operator of radio stations in the United States iHeartMedia have been sued for unfair advertising of Pixel 4.
FTC and four states say the companies aired “nearly 29,000 deceptive endorsements by radio personalities” during 2019 and 2020, and Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Samuel Levine said, that “Google and iHeartMedia paid influencers to promote products they never used, showing a blatant disrespect for truth-in-advertising rules.”
Both companies settled the lawsuit and will be required to pay $9.4 million in fines.
The radio hosts talked about how much they liked the Pixel 4, but “the on-air personalities were not provided with Pixel 4s before recording and airing the majority of the ads and therefore did not own or regularly use the phones.” Therefore, first-person announcements such as “It’s my favorite phone camera out there, especially in low light, thanks to Night Sight Mode”, “I’ve been taking studio-like photos of everything,” and “It’s also great at helping me get stuff done, thanks to the new voice-activated Google Assistant that can handle multiple tasks at once” can’t be true.
A Google representative said:
“We are pleased to resolve this issue. We take compliance with advertising laws seriously and have processes in place designed to help ensure we follow relevant regulations and industry standards.”
As part of the settlement, Google and iHeartMedia are prohibited from “misrepresenting that an endorser has owned or used, or about their experience with, certain products.” The agreement is subject to public comment for 30 days, after which the commission will vote to make the proposed consent orders final.