Brands shelled out $7 million for a 30-second ad at the big game on Feb. 11. New research shows that no company got more bang for its buck than Temu, the controversial shopping app that went viral for airing four "Shop Like a Billionaire" commercials during Super Bowl LVIII.
The Super Bowl spots—which cost an estimated $19 to $28 million altogether—featured Temu shoppers buying clothes, wigs and more at bargain prices (we're talking $9.99 for a sequined red gown). They were set to seriously addictive jingles ("I get it straight from the maker / I'm shopping like a billionaire"), which apparently paid off in search volume.
Online searches for the brand increased by more than 1,000% in the U.S., according to a Google Trends analysis by promotional products company Pens.com. That makes Temu the clear winner of all brands vying for Super Bowl eyeballs, with the retailer beating out big names like Disney and Volkswagen.
Think of Temu (pronounced "temm-oo") as a Chinese-based Wayfair. It's an online marketplace that sells everything from clothing to kitchen appliances at crazy low prices. It was founded in 2022 by the same Chinese retailer behind Pinduoduo, another e-commerce platform.
Per Wired, Temu's direct-to-consumer model keeps prices low. They sell straight from Chinese vendors to American shoppers, skipping U.S.-based warehouses.
But the retail giant is currently under a cloud of controversy. In 2023, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Temu claiming the company uses "deceptive" methods to get user data in a violation of customer privacy rights. Per CBS News, the suit alleges that Temu's platform is "loaded with tools to execute virulent and dangerous malware and spyware activities on user devices."
Better Business Bureau gives Temu a lackluster C+ rating, citing thousands of customer complaints over the last three years. Frequent issues include low-quality products, products not being delivered and unresponsive customer service lines.
Given the brand's legal troubles and cheap-o ethos, social media had a field day with Temu splashing out on Super Bowl spots. One Twitter user wrote, "HOW IS TEMU AFFORDING THIS MANY ADS" alongside the viral image of Travis Kelce's sideline freakout.
Another poked fun at the company's alleged misdeeds ("Temu used y'all's credit card info to buy two Super Bowl ads"). And one had choice words for Temu's earworm ad tunes: "They play the 'ooh ooh temu!' song at the gates of hell."
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