Google and iHeartMedia have agreed to pay a total of more than $9.4 million dollars to seven states, including Illinois, to settle claims over allegedly deceptive advertisements, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said Monday.
According to Raoul's office, an investigation began following 2019 when Google contracted iHeartMedia personalities to record advertisements endorsing its Google Pixel 4 smartphone. The radio personalities claimed they used the smartphones and found that they performed favorably, Raoul's office said in a news release. However, the personalities neither owned nor operated a Pixel 4 prior to the endorsements, the release stated.
"“Google and iHeartMedia misled customers with fabricated advertisements,” Raoul commented. “I am committed to seeking enforcement against businesses and others who violate the law to take advantage of Illinois consumers.”
The ads, which ran on iHeart radio stations and internet streaming services, aired in the Chicago, Atlanta, Boston, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix and San Francisco markets.
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Under the settlement agreement, Google and iHeart Media will pay at least $1.5 million to Illinois and a total of $9.4 million to the states that filed suit. In addition, the companies have agreed to comply with the Federal Trade Commission's Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, not make misrepresentations about an endorser’s experience and provide related compliance reports to states, according to the terms.
Google will be required to submit reports for three years while iHeart Media must file reports for 10 years, according to the Illinois Attorney General.