Alibaba launches ad campaign as Olympic sponsor

Alibaba founder Jack Ma (left) with former IOC chief Thomas Bach (right) - InsideSport

Alibaba Group Holding has launched its first global marketing campaign outside China as a major sponsor of the International Olympic Committee.

Chinese e-commerce giants’s Olympic advertisements focus on underdog stories in countries like the USA, Britain, South Korea and Japan. The company will run a billboard campaign in South Korea as the nation hosts the February 9 to 25 Pyeongchang Winter Games. Campaign’s social media plans include the launch of videos in the USA, Britain, and Japan. TV commercials and billboards will also appear in China. The entire campaign is centered on the motto “to the greatness of small”.

The international ads will appear on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

One of the ads, to run in English, Chinese, and Japanese, features the Kenyan ice hockey team, which Tung said Alibaba would bring to Korea even though they will not be competing. Another vignette is of Australia’s Bobby Pearce, who stopped during an Olympic rowing race in 1928 to make way for a family of ducks.

The $525 billion Chinese company is targeting growth outside China to maintain investor expectations as an online retail market in its major base, home market China has become more saturated.

It is the first time the company has launched a global branding campaign for the parent company, instead of for one of its business units, chief marketing officer Chris Tung said. “Our advertising will help introduce our brand and what Alibaba stands for to audiences beyond China,” Tung said, adding that these are “critical strategically important markets”.

The ads focus on underdog stories, which capture the spirit of Alibaba, Tung said, and are in line with a small and medium size business push that Alibaba’s founder and executive chairman Jack Ma has been championing. Ma, a schoolteacher in China who went on to become the country’s richest man, has said he founded his company to help small businesses, the Alibaba Group-owned South China Morning Post has reported.

Alibaba has signed a long Olympics sponsorship agreement with the IOC. The deal runs until at least 2028.