Matthew Keegan
Nov 2, 2023

Temu shopping adverts banned for sexualising a young girl and objectifying women

Chinese-owned online retailer Temu has had five adverts banned in the UK, one that was found to be ‘portraying a child in sexual way’.

Temu shopping adverts banned for sexualising a young girl and objectifying women
Temu, the Chinese-owned shopping app, has had five adverts banned in the UK by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) due to their sexualised content. One of the ads was deemed inappropriate for how it depicted a young girl modelling a bikini.
The advert in question was displayed on a regional online newspaper back in June and featured a young girl aged between eight to eleven wearing a two piece bikini in a pose that “was quite adult for a girl of her age", the ASA said
Four more advertisements that featured sexualised or objectifying images of women were banned.
Temu announced that the child's photo would not be displayed ever again due to it being against their marketing guidelines. It disputed the other complaints but all were ruled to be inappropriate by the UK's advertising watchdog.
In total, the ASA received five complaints concerning display adverts by Temu on various websites and an in-app ad. 
Images of women's torsos in low-cut skirts, a grey jockstrap and padded cycling shorts were among the photos that sparked complaints.
The ASA determined that the cycling shorts "looked like underwear with the bottom cut out" while the jockstrap highlighted "the outline of the genitalia."
The fact that the models' faces were hidden in the clothing photos meant that "the women were presented as stereotypical sexual objects".
In addition, images of balloon ties and a facial roller "were phallic in shape and appeared sexual in nature" when viewed with the other adverts.
The ads appeared on a chess website, a puzzle app, a translation website, and a local news website. The chess website and the news website said that they would not advertise Temu products again.
Temu said they were a global online platform, launched in the UK in 2023. Third-party sellers listed and sold a wide range of products on their marketplace. The product descriptions, including the images, displayed on the marketplace were provided by the third parties. Sellers were obliged to adhere to Temu’s marketplace policies which prohibited pornographic, obscene or harassing images.
In its defence, Temu told the ASA that all the ads were served by Google Ads. Over one million product descriptions and images were uploaded to their Google Ads account, and that a Google Ads algorithim decided the specific products advertised, the arrangement of products and the websites/apps that the ads were displayed on.
Temu added that the images of the models with their faces cut off were not intended to objectify women and pointed out that comparable images were featured on other online shopping platforms.
It also argued that the pictures of the other objects were accurate representations of the products on sale.
The ASA said it has told Temu to ensure that "future ads were prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society."
It has also warned the company against "presenting products in a sexual way in general media or by presenting individuals as stereotypical sexual objects."
In addition, persons who were or appeared to be under 18 years of age in ads "must not be portrayed in a sexual way and ads must be responsibly targeted."
Campaign Asia

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