Hey, there! Log in / Register

Boston radio personalities who blathered about how much a new Google phone improved their lives were lying because they didn't have the phones, state charges

Massachusetts today sued Google and iHeartMedia over 2019 ads on Boston radio stations by DJs and other on-air talent gushing about all the cool things they were able to do with their new Pixel 4 phones even though they didn't actually have the phones.

The suit, filed by the state Attorney General's office in Suffolk Superior Court, says the promotions violated the state consumer-protection law because they were "false and misleading" advertisements.

In its complaint, the state included a copy of one of the scripts at least nine Boston-area DJs and on-air talent - five of them specifically on iHeartMedia stations - were paid to read and even tailor to reflect their actual lives:

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?

Right, the state agrees: It didn't happen.

Some personalized what they said they did with the Pixel 4 to better reflect their lifestyles and activities, thereby making the advertisements more realistic. However, the Boston Radio Personalities did not own or regularly use a Pixel 4 and had not used a Pixel 4 to take pictures at night.

The state alleges that iHeartMedia, at least, was aware of the incongruity involved, that before the promos were recorded, an iHeartMedia ad rep wrote his or her counterpart at the agency booking ads for Google:

We ... cannot require talent to use "I" in voiced spots when they have not physically used the product ... For this reason, we may receive spots from stations that adjust the tense slightly to remove the personalization of "I."

The suit says Google's media buying agent checked with Google and found it would be impossible to get actual Pixel 4 phones to the announcement readers because they were not yet on the shelves - and that getting them early models would take at least a week and Google did not want to delay the start of the campaign.

Rather than lose the ad money, the state alleges, iHeartMedia gave in and had its on-air talent record fully personalized I-blurbs for Boston and several other cities.

The state alleges these promotional messages aired 1,892 times in Massachusetts between October and December, 2019, including 1,294 times on iHeartMedia radio stations in the Boston market. The suit does not name the specific stations or on-air personalities.

If the case goes to trial, the state says it will seek penalties of $5,000 per violation plus costs and attorneys' fees.

Neighborhoods: 
Topics: 
AttachmentSize
PDF icon Complete complaint275.3 KB

Ad:

Like the job UHub is doing? Consider a contribution. Thanks!

Comments

I read the complaint and I don't see and "Boston Media Personalities" names. Can anyone name these bad boys and girls? Enquiring minds want to know.

up
Voting closed 46

to discover that iHeartMedia employs actual human DJ's with actual lives to misrepresent.

up
Voting closed 65

...iHeartMedia employs actual human DJ's with actual lives to misrepresent.

Pics or it didn't happen, right?

up
Voting closed 25

really ready to start demanding TRUTH IN ADVERTISING?

I seriously doubt it. NOBODY post-kindygarten is up for that shit and you'd be wise not to fall for any claims to the contrary.

up
Voting closed 8

More like truth in terms of "is this a commercial". Regulations have been swinging towards that for a while - Influencers, Instagrammers, etc, are now required to disclose if they received products for free or were paid to gush about them. As long as the audience knows this statement was paid for, they can discern whether or not they want to believe the advertising. It gets tricky when otherwise trusted personalities say a bunch of ad copy and you don't REALIZE they're acting in a commercial.

up
Voting closed 21

Its one of they annoying things about the morning drive shows now.

Because they DONT. And its blended in with the rest of the show meaning, you may hear them so "and that was Britney Spears with baby one more time."

And then the next line is

"Have you tried dunkin donuts new flavored cofffee"

And the other host will chime in like they just randomly talked about it on the air.

NO that spot was paid for dunkin donuts.

This practice should be illegal. I'm not sure why they are getting away with it..

up
Voting closed 7

Because starting with Reagan, the Republicans (with help from Democrats) have been working hard to normalize the idea that anything corporations want to do is just fine and should be allowed. They will have you believe that the only alternative to that is Communism, and we don't want that, now do we?

up
Voting closed 5

a celebrity endorsement is that they probably don't actually use the product or service, but are saying nice things about it because somebody paid them to.

Making false claims about the product or service itself is another matter. "I love my Pixel 4" even if they don't really own a Pixel 4 is okay. "I use a Pixel 4 because it doesn't cause brain cancer like iPhones do" is not.

up
Voting closed 28

Well, at least, no lies associated with My Pillows.

up
Voting closed 15

I love my Fascist Pillow! It was the final solution to my insomnia problem.

up
Voting closed 16

I wonder who tipped off the AG. Can a whistleblower make money from reporting something like this?

up
Voting closed 19

I'd like to see a lot more public corruption cases instead of socially insignificant ones like these.

I wish Healey the best of luck as Governor but I wasn't impressed with how she spent her time as AG.

up
Voting closed 22

I once worked for a station where the morning DJ did paid testimonials for Comcast... all while stealing cable. I guess they weren't wrong by saying "I love my Comcast cable tv"... who wouldn't when it's free.

up
Voting closed 4

Since they aren't using the public airwaves responsibly their should loose their FCC license. It should be given to a non-profit community group.

(It's fun to daydream.)

up
Voting closed 13

...You could lose your station's license if your parent company was found guilty of corruption. Remember WNAC-TV and General Tire which owned RKO General?
This is direct corruption. Where's the FTC and more importantly the FCC?

up
Voting closed 9

A corporation couldn't own more than one broadcast license of each type in the same market. It's a travesty that rules such as that were eliminated by both parties in the 80s and 90s.

As far as I'm concerned, any public use of Radio & TV frequencies should be limited to noncommercial uses and no one group should be able to own more than one license nationwide.

iHeartRadio shouldn't exist.

up
Voting closed 19

This is the trailer for the documentary Corporate FM. It's not too long but a pretty good look at what radio was a few decades ago, what it's turned into and how the people who work in the industry are hanging on.

up
Voting closed 7

It was channel 5, until the Kennedys got it shut down, along with the Herald, because free speech?

up
Voting closed 8

your memory is failing or you just don't like Kennedy.
The late senator didn't get anything shut down.
The station was bought by a group led by David Mugar as their broadcast license was about to be revoked for corruption.

up
Voting closed 5

In the land of the "special operation," they also revoke the licenses of broadcasters for the same reason. Of course, that they are on the leaders' shit list is just a coincidence.

At the end of the day, Teddy didn't like the Herald, so he spent a lot of effort trying to destroy it. He failed, though the rise of this medium hasn't helped matters for the paper.

up
Voting closed 9

Oh u mean like how when sales people are trying to sell you something more pricey and they say it's their favorite and they bought it too and have it at home? Where there is advertising there is lying.

up
Voting closed 5

$9,460,000 out of IHeartMedia's $1.15 billion dollar net worth is barely a sneeze. They'll fight it for years though. I hate those guys.

up
Voting closed 13

Did Fred Flintstone actually smoke Winstons, and nothing else? His words!

up
Voting closed 7

I do not recall Fred Flintstone smoking anything during the actual animated series. I believe he did smoke a cigar when he got the Vice President promotion in "The Flintstones Movie" after Barney switched his aptitude test for Fred's.

up
Voting closed 5