Following Thanksgiving and Native American Heritage Day, the FTC announced an almost $10 million settlement with Google and iHeartMedia related to their allegedly deceptive past endorsements of Google’s Pixel 4 phone and released the Commission’s annual market concentration analysis of the ethanol production industry. These stories after the jump.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Bureau of Consumer Protection: Advertising and Marketing, Endorsements, Testimonials, Influencers

  • The FTC and attorneys general from Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, and Texas announced both lawsuits and proposed settlements with Google LLC and iHeartMedia, Inc. for allegedly airing deceptive personal endorsements by radio personalities promoting their use of and experience with Google’s Pixel 4 phone in 2019 and 2020. The settlements bar Google and iHeartMedia from making similar misrepresentations, and the state judgments also require payment of $9.4 million in penalties. In 2019, Google hired iHeartMedia, and 10 other radio networks, to have on-air personalities record and broadcast endorsement advertisements of the Pixel 4 phone. Google purportedly provided a script to the radio stations, but did not provide the individuals with Pixel 4s. Google will be subject to a twenty-year injunction prohibiting the encouragement of misrepresentations when hiring endorsers to advertise products and will be required to submit compliance reports.
  • As a general reminder, on May 20, 2022, the FTC proposed updates to its Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Friday, December 2, 2022

Bureau of Competition: Oil and Gas Industry Initiatives

  • The FTC issued its 2022 Report on Ethanol Market Concentration in compliance with the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that directs the Commission to perform an annual review of market concentration in the ethanol production industry. The report concluded that “[t]he low level of concentration and large number of market participants in the U.S. ethanol production industry continue to suggest that the exercise of market power to set prices, or coordinate on price or output levels, is unlikely on a nationwide basis.”