#ByeShopee is trending on Twitter after the ecommerce giant appointed a staunch supporter of President Marcos Jr. as brand ambassador in the Philippines
- Filipina singer-actress Toni Gonzaga was appointed as a Shopee brand ambassador on Thursday.
- The move sparked backlash, with some people saying Shopee has appointed a politically divisive figure amid mass layoffs.
Singapore-based ecommerce giant Shopee, the Amazon of Southeast Asia, is facing boycott calls in the Philippines over its choice of brand ambassador.
On Thursday, the ecommcerce giant appointed Filipina singer, actress, and vlogger Toni Gonzaga as brand ambassador. Gonzaga is a staunch supporter of President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., who won a landslide presidential election in May, signalling the return of the one of the country's most notorious political parties. Marcos Jr. is the son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., under whose regime thousands of political opponents were tortured.
The calls to boycott Shopee commenced shortly after Gonzaga's appointment. Hashtags #ByeShopee and #BoycottShopee began trending on Twitter in the Philippines, with 340,000 tweets as of Friday morning, Bloomberg reported.
Some people began posting about switching to rival commerce platform Lazada, which is backed by founder Jack Ma's Alibaba.
—Jovel (@vojzvojz) September 28, 2022
Others took to social media to point out that Shopee has now hired a highly paid, politically divisive celebrity as its brand ambassador, per Inquirer.net. Gonzaga's appointment is particularly divisive because it comes on the heels of mass layoffs at Shopee that affected thousands of employees across Southeast Asia.
—Gerry Cacanindin (@GerryCacanindin) September 28, 2022
"These changes are part of our ongoing efforts to optimize operating efficiency with the goal of achieving self-sufficiency across our business," Shopee told Insider on September 20, following the recent round of layoffs.
In response to the Gonzaga-related backlash, a Shopee Philippines representative told the Inquirer that Gonzaga was chosen for her "mass appeal" and not for her political leanings.
Shopee's layoffs came almost exactly a year after the ecommerce giant raised $6 billion through the sale of equity and bonds in September 2021. At the time, it was the largest fundraising in Southeast Asia.
Shopee was founded in 2015 by Chinese-born Singaporean businessman Forrest Li. The ecommerce brand launched in seven markets across Southeast Asia and has since expanded into 13 markets. Today, Li is the billionaire CEO of NYSE-listed Sea Limited, which owns 100% of Shopee as well a gaming unit called Garena.
Shopee and Gonzaga did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment.
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