Lazada and Shopee advertising drugs and other weird items on sale
If you’ve ever shopped on Lazada, Shopee, or any other Southeast Asian e-commerce platform, chances are that you’ve probably stumbled across some weird items on sale. Some of these items come with really strange descriptions of images, and they translate even more weirdly onto advertisements that you encounter while scrolling through other social media sites like Facebook or Instagram.
One such advertisement recently caused a buzz in the Philippines when a local celebrity found the accompanying image to be offensive and supportive of rape culture.
On March 4, 2021, Filipino celebrity and former politician Kim Atienza – who is known for hosting multiple TV segments – took to Twitter to air his disgust at seeing a Lazada ad that seemed to promote the sale of a “rape” drug.
The ad showed a listing for a drug or medication meant to help users fall asleep. The title read “Deep sleep] [one second spray marriage to fall asleep fast” and also included the word “hypnotic”.
Even worse, the image for the listing showed a woman unconscious in the back of a car with one of her breasts exposed, but with the nipple covered by an unintelligible cartoon graphic.
Putting two and two together, anyone might have surmized that the drug on sale might be for putting unwitting individuals to sleep, making them vulnerable against untoward acts, such as rape for instance.
Atienza – who apparently drew the same conclusion – tagged Lazada Philippines in his tweet and lambasted them for indecent ad.
“Shame on you, Lazada Philippines. Do you even know what you are selling? Is this even legal? I’m calling you out. Shame,” he said, before following up the tweet with another that said “A date rape sleep spray or whatever they wish to call it is unacceptable and has to be called out. If it’s for insomnia I’d understand but the pic?”
Following his outburst, Lazada Philippines’ Twitter account made a direct reply to the account apologizing for the ad and assuring him that their team was “already on top of the issue.”
Hi! Thank you for bringing this to our attention. This has already been coordinated with the relevant teams for checking and investigation. Rest assured that our team is already on top of the issue. Thank you and stay safe! -Starr
— Lazada Philippines (@LazadaPH) March 3, 2021
However, replies to Atienza’s tweet from other followers also pointed out other weird advertisements from the platform, such as a listing for an “enthusiastic little brother”. Not sure what that’s all about.
Another user pointed out a listing for keychains shaped like cannabis buds. Not exactly the weirdest thing on the site, but still.
And lastly but no less eyebrow-raising, another user pointed out a similar advertisement from Lazada’s rivals Shopee which also listed a drug or spray meant to induce sleep that had a suggestive picture of an unconscious woman on public transport.
This raises the question as to whether or not e-commerce operators such as Lazada, Shopee, and others of the same ilk have any idea as to what exactly goes on sale on their platforms each day.
Hopefully, this incident will raise some alarms and prompt them to pay closer attention to what their sellers are listing, and what sort of ads are placed online for all the world to see.