In its first global branding campaign, Alibaba is making a big play for higher international visibility by focusing on "the greatness of small".
Launched for the upcoming PyeongChang 2018 games, the campaign features a cast of multinational athletes who have made, or may make, outsized impacts. The three-part series by BBDO China, which debuted Monday, will be released beginning 1 February in the US, the UK, Japan, South Korea and China.
Speaking during a conference call Monday night from Hangzhou, Chris Tung, Alibaba's chief marketing officer, made no secret of the company's intention to use the Olympics platform to expand its global footprint in ecommerce and offer the world a glimpse of its technology capabilities, such as cloud services and face recognition
"We think the cloud technology and big data will help transform the games in the digital era, not only to re-engage the younger generation, but to increase the relevance of the games," said Tung.
Here Tung referred to improving the onsite experience for spectators and the media at a centre Alibaba is setting up during the games, the Alibaba Olympic Showcase in Gangneung Olympic Park, as well as to building a global ecommerce hub that combines commerce with content on sports and athletes to attract a young audience.
"As the founding partner of the Olympic channel, our focus is to leverage our media assets in China," Tung said. "We believe the best way to engage the younger generation is by creating an ecosystem that surrounds their daily lives, a 356-engagement, rather than wait for every two or four years for a major Olympic event."
He revealed that Alibaba is in talks with CCTV to screen the upcoming Winter games, following an earlier collaboration during the Rio Olympics that attacted more than 380 million views on Youku, its owned video platform.
Meanwhile, the marketing campaign will be released on digital and social platforms in the US, UK and Japan, as well as TV and digital platforms in China. On-the-ground activation will be carried out in China and South Korea, where Cheil Worldwide became a natural choice to execute the campaign for the host nation, Tung said.
Alibaba entered into a long-term partnership with the Intenational Olympic Committee last year, running through till 2028, as its official cloud services and ecommerce platform partner, as well as the founding partner of the Olympic channel. Tung is optimistic that the partnership will bear fruit for Alibaba's global ambitions, especially with the coming Paris 2024 Summer Olympics.
Alibaba's B2B and B2C platforms (Tmall in China and AliExpress for international consumers) will be leveraged to support sales of IOC merchandise. The flagship store for the Beijing 2022 Winter Games, launched on Tmall, will eventually evolve to be the flagship IOC store, he said, while a similar flagship store will be launched on Aliexpress.
Having entered the partnership with IOC rather late in the runup to PyeongChang, Tung said Alibaba is unable to support the coming winter games full-scale through its travel platform Fliggy. "But Tokyo 2020 will be very important," Tung said. "Fliggy will play an important role, offering tour packages for Chinese tourists to go to Tokyo for the games."