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Temu, the controversial Chinese e-commerce giant, is looking to take on Amazonreturns to the big game Sunday with a Super Bowl ad that lawmakers are calling for Paramount Worldwide and CBS for not showing up.
The company, owned by Securities in PDD portfoliorose to prominence last year after airing an ad during the big game just months after its premiere.
Last year's ad touted Temu's low prices and urged consumers to shop “like a billionaire.” The multimillion-dollar investment helped Temu gain recognition, and by the end of 2023, it was the most downloaded app in the United States, with 51 million monthly active users in January, an increase of nearly by 300% year over year, according to data from Sensor Tower.
Details of this year's ad haven't been revealed, but it's already marred by controversy.
The company seeks to win over U.S. shoppers by becoming the second-best “everything store” with lower prices than its competitors, but lawmakers say it uses slave labor in its supply chain and spy on his customers.
On Wednesday, 11 Republican lawmakers sent a letter to the CEOs of CBS, which broadcasts the Super Bowl, and parent company Paramount, urging them not to air the ad.
“Since last year's Super Bowl, Congress, through the Chinese Community Party Select Committee, has uncovered alarming findings that indicate Temu has a pattern of non-compliance with illicit products entering the American market”, we can read in the missive.
“Specifically, Temu has no system in place to ensure compliance with the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA). This virtually guarantees that shipments from Temu containing products made with forced labor regularly enter the United States. United, in violation of the UFLPA,” he said, citing the House committee report.
Allowing Temu's ad to air “would be a touchdown for the Chinese Communist Party against the home team,” the letter said.
The letter was sent 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 comment.
Temu, along with Shein and other clothing retailers with a manufacturing presence in China, are under scrutiny congressional investigation conducted by the House of Representatives Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party since May.
While cotton and other raw materials attributable to forced labor are a problem throughout the fashion industry, Shein regularly provides data on how often banned cotton is found in its clothing and publishes the results of the audits it conducts with its manufacturers. Other retailers also publish audit results.
Temu has not yet publicly provided this data.
“Company officials lazily point to standard terms and conditions asking suppliers not to use forced labor, but Temu does not conduct audits or have a compliance system in place to prevent support for atrocities,” he said. said committee member Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo. Friday Bulletin. “The company even admitted that it “does not expressly prohibit third-party sellers from selling products based on their origin in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region” and that it completely ignores the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Law .
In a statement to CNBC, Luetkemeyer called Temu's ad “sickening.”
“Some people watch the Super Bowl as much for the commercials as the game. It's sickening to think that a company built on forced labor and with close ties to the Chinese Communist Party will appeal directly to millions of Americans all at once,” says Lütkemeyer. “I hope this only draws attention to Temu and Pinduoduo's sinister past if and when people see it. A flashy ad for the site's cheap products is lipstick on the most pig ugly world.”
In response, a Temu spokesperson told CNBC that its standards and practices regarding the use of forced labor are “no different” from those of major e-commerce players like “Amazon, eBay And Etsy” and the allegations “are completely unfounded”.
“Before setting up their stores and listing their products on Temu, each seller must sign an agreement. This document constitutes a commitment to maintain lawful and compliant business operations and to strictly adhere to the legal standards and regulations of their specific markets,” a said the spokesperson.
“The use of forced, criminal or child labor is strictly prohibited. The employment of all our traders and suppliers must be strictly voluntary. They must respect freedom of association and the rights of workers to collective bargaining. Traders, Temu's suppliers and other third parties must pay their employees and subcontractors on time and must comply with all applicable local wage and hour laws.