Temu returns to Super Bowl ad slate as lawmaker ire swells

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Temu, the controversial Chinese e-commerce large trying to tackle Amazon, is returning to the massive recreation on Sunday with a Super Bowl ad that lawmakers are calling on Paramount Global and CBS not to run.

The firm, owned by PDD Holdings, skyrocketed to prominence final 12 months after it ran an ad through the large recreation only a few months after it was founded

Last 12 months’s commercial touted Temu’s low prices and invited shoppers to store “like a billionaire.” The multi-million greenback funding put Temu on the map and by the tip of 2023, it was the No. 1 most-downloaded app within the U.S. with month-to-month energetic customers topping 51 million this January, up practically 300% 12 months over 12 months, in accordance to information from Sensor Tower. 

The specifics of this 12 months’s ad have not been revealed, however already it is marred in controversy.

The firm is trying to win over U.S. buyers by being the subsequent greatest “all the pieces retailer” with decrease costs than opponents, however lawmakers say it makes use of slave labor in its provide chain and spies on its customers

On Wednesday, 11 Republican lawmakers despatched a letter to the CEOs of CBS, which is airing the Super Bowl, and mum or dad firm Paramount urging them not to run the commercial.

“Since final 12 months’s Super Bowl, Congress, by means of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Community Party, has uncovered alarming findings that point out Temu has a sample of noncompliance in the direction of illicit merchandise getting into the United States market,” the missive learn.

“Specifically, Temu ‘doesn’t have any system to guarantee compliance with the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA). This all however ensures that shipments from Temu containing merchandise made with pressured labor are getting into the United States regularly, in violation of the UFLPA,'” it says, citing the House committee report.

Allowing Temu’s business to air “can be a landing for the Chinese Communist Party in opposition to the house crew,” the letter acknowledged.

The letter was despatched by Rep. Carol Miller, R-W.V., and signed by Reps. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., Jim Banks, R-Ind., Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y., Christopher Smith, R-N.J., Pete Stauber, R-Minn., Ronny Jackson, R-Tex., Michelle Steel, R-Calif., Beth Van Duyne, R-Tex., James Baird, R-Ind. and Mike Carey, R-Ohio.

Paramount and CBS declined to remark.

Labor allegations

Temu, together with Shein and different attire retailers with a producing presence in China, has been below congressional investigation from the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party since May.

While cotton and different uncooked supplies that may be traced to pressured labor is an issue throughout all the vogue business, Shein regularly provides data on how usually banned cotton is present in its garments and publishes the results of the audits it conducts on its producers. Other retailers additionally publish audit outcomes.

Temu has but to present such information publicly.

“Company officers lazily level to boilerplate phrases and situations asking suppliers not to use pressured labor, however Temu doesn’t conduct audits and has no compliance system to forestall supporting atrocities,” committee member, Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., stated in a Friday bulletin. “The firm even admitted it ‘doesn’t expressly prohibit third-party sellers from promoting merchandise primarily based on their origin within the Xinjiang Autonomous Region’ and fully disregards the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.”

In a press release to CNBC, Luetkemeyer referred to as Temu’s ad “sickening.”

“Some folks watch the Super Bowl for the commercials as a lot as the sport. It’s sickening to assume an organization constructed on slave labor with shut ties to the Chinese Communist Party goes to make a direct enchantment to hundreds of thousands of Americans unexpectedly,” stated Luetkemeyer. “I hope it solely attracts consideration to the sinister background of each Temu and Pinduoduo if and when folks see it. A flashy commercial for the location’s low-cost merchandise is lipstick on the ugliest pig round.”

In response, a Temu spokesperson advised CNBC its requirements and practices surrounding the usage of pressured labor are “no completely different” from main e-commerce gamers like “Amazon, eBay and Etsy” and the allegations “are fully ungrounded.” 

“Before organising their shops and itemizing merchandise on Temu, each vendor has to signal an settlement. This doc stands as a pledge to keep lawful and compliant enterprise operations, and cling strictly to the authorized requirements and rules of their particular markets,” the spokesperson stated. 

“The use of pressured, penal, or baby labor is strictly prohibited. Employment by all our retailers and suppliers have to be strictly voluntary. They shall respect the liberty of affiliation and employees’ rights to collectively discount. Temu’s retailers, suppliers, and different third events should pay their workers and contractors on time and should adjust to all relevant native wage and hours legal guidelines.”

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