Google settles with FTC after paying iHeartMedia radio hosts to endorse Pixel 4 phones they’d NEVER used in nearly 29,000 advertisements
- Google and iHeartMedia settled with the FTC and seven states over deceptive advertisements for its Pixel 4 smartphones
- On-air hosts were given scripts to read that praised the phones but they never actually received phones to test out or use prior to the endorsements
- The deceptive ads cost about $4.6 million and aired almost 29,000 times in 2019 and 2020
- Google and iHeartMedia must pay fines in the amount of $9.4 million
Google and iHeartMedia settled with the FTC and seven state attorneys general after the tech firm paid radio personalities to endorse Pixel 4 phones that they’d never used.
The tech giant paid more than $2.6 million to iHeartMedia and almost $2 million to 11 other smaller radio networks in connection with the deceptive advertisements, according to the FTC complaint.
In 2019, Google hired iHeartMedia and radio hosts in other networks to record and broadcast endorsements of the Pixel 4 smartphone – prior to the phone’s launch for the general public.
Radio personalities were given scrips of what to say about the phones, but the on-air hosts were not given Pixel 4s to test or use before recording the ads – despite the fact that they asked Google to provide phones.
Google and iHeartMedia settled with the FTC and seven state attorneys general after the tech firm paid radio personalities to endorse Pixel 4 phones (above) that they’d never used
The tech giant paid more than $2.6 million to iHeartMedia and almost $2 million to 11 other smaller radio networks in connection with the deceptive advertisements, according to the FTC
The on-air scripts for radio hosts to read typically began like this:
‘The only thing I love more than taking the perfect photo? Taking the perfect photo at night. With Google Pixel 4 both are a cinch. 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 . . . my son’s football game . . . a meteor shower . . . a rare spotted owl that landed in my backyard. Pics or it didn’t happen, am I right? Pixel 4 is more than just great pics. 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.’
Google and iHeartMedia will be forced to pay $9.4 million in penalties due to the deceptive advertisements, which aired almost 29,000 times in ten different markets. Although the fee is noteworthy, Google has a market capitalization of $1.23 trillion.
In New York, Google will pay $1.52 million for the deceptive ads and will be banned from making certain types of ads in the state in the future.
‘Google and iHeartMedia knowingly misled the public through inaccurate ads to turn a profit,’ New York Attorney General Letitia James said. ‘False advertising is a fraud against the public. … Consumers deserve to know the truth about products before making any purchases.’
‘Google and iHeartMedia paid influencers to promote products they never used, showing a blatant disrespect for truth-in-advertising rules,’ said Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Samuel Levine in a statement.
‘The FTC will not stop working with our partners in the states to crack down on deceptive ads and ensure firms that break the rules pay a price.’
Both companies will be forced to provide compliance reports as well: Google for three years and iHeartMedia for 10 years.
‘We are pleased to resolve this issue,’ Google spokesperson José Castañeda told DailyMail.com in a statement: ‘We take compliance with advertising laws seriously and have processes in place designed to help ensure we follow relevant regulations and industry standards.’
The regulatory agency worked with state attorneys general in Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York and Texas on the complaint against Google and iHeartMedia.
Google and iHeartMedia will be forced to pay $9.4 million in penalties due to the deceptive advertisements, which aired almost 29,000 times in ten different markets