The Attorney General’s Office secured $9.4 million along with five other states and the Federal Trade Commission after suing Google and iHeartMedia.
The lawsuit was over Google paying radio personalities to record and air endorsement ads for the Google Pixel 4 even though they never used the phone.
The ads were misleading because of this and ran in both English and Spanish more than 23,000 times in ten different markets. These markets included New York, which is a violation of New York’s consumer protection laws. New York will receive $1.58 million out of the $9.4 million settlement.
“Google and iHeartMedia knowingly misled the public through inaccurate ads to turn a profit,” James said. “False advertising is a fraud against the public. Companies big and small have a responsibility to be honest about their products and follow the law, there are no exceptions. Consumers deserve to know the truth about products before making any purchases. My office will not tolerate misleading claims, and outright lies from advertisers, and we will hold them accountable.”
In 2019, Google partnered with iHeartMedia and other local radio stations to run an ad campaign for the Google Pixel 4. In these ads, Google required radio personalities to describe their personal experiences using the Pixel 4, despite the phone not yet being available for sale. Google refused to provide the phones to any stations in advance of recording and airing the ads, so the radio personalities’ statements about their experiences using the phone could not be true.
One ad said, “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.”
New York was joined by Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, and Massachusetts in the settlement against Google. Texas also joined the group in its settlement against iHeartMedia.