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Google sued for false Pixel 4 ads wherein influencers lied about using the phone

Google allegedly paid radio influencers to sing false praises of the Pixel 4 phones.
By
November 29, 2022
google pixel 4 xl long term review 2
Oliver Cragg / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • Google allegedly paid influencers to say nice things about the Pixel 4 series when, in fact, they had never used the phones.
  • According to the FTC, the company also paid iHeartMedia to air these “deceptive” ads.
  • Both Google and iHeartMedia are settling the lawsuit with the FTC and seven states. They’ll have to pay a penalty of $9.4 million.

Google and iHeartMedia are facing a lawsuit for “deceptive” Pixel 4 ads. The companies are being sued by The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and seven states for airing nearly 29,000 false ads featuring radio personalities promoting their use of the Pixel 4 phones in 2019 and 2020.

According to a release posted by the FTC, Google and iHeartMedia hired influencers to promote the Pixel flagships with scripted lines like, “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.”

The hired influencers never used the phones before the recording and airing of the ads.

Google allegedly paid over $2.6 million to iHeartRadio and $2 million “in connection with eleven smaller radio networks” for the deceptive ads endorsing the Pixel 4. The lawsuit claims that the hired influencers never used the phones before the recording and airing of the ads.

“It is common sense that people put more stock in first-hand experiences. Consumers expect radio advertisements to be truthful and transparent about products, not misleading with fake endorsements,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.

The proposed FTC order and the state judgments settling the allegations bar Google and iHeartMedia from similar deceitful advertisements in the future. They also require the companies to cough up $9.4 million in penalties.