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  • IOC Sponsorship Part of Alibaba Globalization Drive


    (ATR) Alibaba wants to showcase itself to the world, and is using the Olympics to do so.
    Alibaba boss Jack Ma with IOC President Thomas Bach (IOC)

    Chris Tung, chief marketing officer at Alibaba, spoke with journalists on a conference call ahead of the 2018 Olympics, the first for Alibaba. He explained the company’s ad campaign, and how the group plans to use its first Olympics as part of its activation.

    Alibaba’s activation will focus on “the greatness of small”. The mantra is central to the company, which is one of the largest e-commerce platforms in the world. Worldwide, the company will run two advertising campaigns, each focusing on a unique athlete story from the present day and the past.

    Tung says that the advertisements will run in five markets: China, Japan, Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States. More important for the company is the worldwide recognition that being a sponsor of the IOC will bring. After PyeongChang 2018 the IOC will lose McDonald’s as a TOP sponsor, and questions remain if other companies may follow suit. Around the world, voters are rejecting the Olympic Games in referendums, leading to uncertainty in the 2026 bid process.

    “Alibaba and the IOC are two global organizations with joint ambitions to leverage global technology to enrich people’s lives, and globalization is a long-term strategic growth priority for Alibaba,” Tung said to Around the Rings, dismissing the notion that prestige in the Olympics has been lost.

    “The strategic alliance will help Alibaba’s growth as a global brand and will build upon our unique heritage of the leading digital services provider in China creating impact and relevance around the world.”

    Alibaba holds two categories in the IOC TOP Sponsorship, cloud services and e-commerce. In a unique deal, Alibaba is also one of the founding partners of the Olympic Channel. Tung says the company plans to use its expertise in creating digital platforms, and cloud computing to bring the Olympic experience into the digital age.

    This means that Olympic content could be packaged by Alibaba, and distributed over a number of platforms. That content could then be linked with e-commerce marketplaces selling officially licensed Olympic products integrating payments in the cloud. Tung said that Alibaba and Beijing 2022 will launch its online store next year through one of these platforms.

    Alibaba says it currently has over 500 million active users, and its goal is to become a global technology and retail commerce company with two billion users. While the company is known in Asia, attaching itself to the Olympics will bring exposure to markets around the world.

    Tung told ATR that the company would have partnered with the IOC even if the next three Olympics were not in Asia. After PyeongChang the 2020 Summer Olympics will go to Tokyo, and the 2022 Winter Olympics will go to Beijing, in the country where Alibaba was founded.

    “This has nothing to do with location because as I said it is about building the understanding of Alibaba in a global market place,” Tung said. “It is part of our important long term strategic strategy with globalization; it has nothing to do with places in Asia.

    “It’s a long-term partnership that takes us to at least 2028 that covers also Paris, LA and other cities in the world.”

    Written by Aaron Bauer

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