Do your on-air hosts ever endorse products they’ve never even used? In a lawsuit filed Wednesday by Texas AG Ken Paxton, Google is accused of paying iHeartMedia on-air hosts in the state to endorse a Google phone that was not yet on the market.
Paxton alleges Google engaged in false and misleading practices in violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices—Consumer Protection Act.
The lawsuit says Google hired iHeartMedia on-air hosts in Dallas and Houston to record ads for the Pixel 4, but at the time the phone wasn’t even available and none of the DJs had even used them.
According to the Associated Press, the lawsuit says iHeartMedia “expressed to Google the violative nature of the advertisements, if the DJs had not used them.” It does not appear iHeart did anything improper.
Google spokesman José Castañeda told the AP that the company takes compliance with advertising laws seriously and they have policies in place to help ensure they follow regulations. “We will review the complaint but the AG’s allegations appear to misrepresent what occurred here.”
Host-read ads are very lucrative for radio stations – and hosts – who typically get a fee for endorsing products or services. They have also been touted by the radio industry as some of the most effective forms of advertising radio stations sell to clients.