Wavemaker, the agency created by the merger of Maxus and MEC, is taking on the global campaign for Singles Day, with a remit to expand Alibaba's annual online shopping bonanza beyond China's borders and beyond Chinese people living overseas.
The global campaign is being carried out from Wavemaker's Hong Kong office and focuses on Hong Kong, Southeast Asia and the US primarily. It does not include activity within China.
Speaking to Campaign Asia-Pacific, Emily Foster, global client partner, noted that this is Wavemaker's first global win, out of its Hong Kong client solution hub and comes at a time when the agency is in transition, as the merger will be formalised next year.
Branded as a global shopping festival this year, Singles Day already leads the world in terms of ecommerce sales-volume. The day's gross merchandise volume of $17.8bn (£13.6bn) last year was fives times that of Black Friday sales. Alibaba has marked cross-border commerce as a growth area for the festival, also called "Double 11", this year.
In June, the ecommerce giant launched Tmall Global as part of its globalisation strategy, with Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia identified as key markets. Localisation initiatives include logistics and payments support, including services such as door-to-door furniture delivery and assembly in Malaysia and Singapore. Singles Day expanded to Hong Kong last year and was followed up with the launch of the Hong Kong version of Tmall this year. The city has been identified as a key battleground for Singles Day this year, following rival JD.com's offer of free delivery and discounts to first-time users in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau.
D'ya think Alibaba's Singles' Day push in HK is aggressive enough? pic.twitter.com/ROw6L0m0AI— Robert Sawatzky (@robertsawatzky) November 3, 2017
"We are at a tipping point currently because the (existing) core audience for Singles Day at overseas markets are Chinese consumers," Foster said. "Targeting beyond this group is what Alibaba wants to do as it expands globally."
The global campaign is focused on brand-building to create momentum in the two weeks before Singles Day. The campaign includes countdown out-of-home creative setups at Times Square in New York City; Suntec City in Singapore and Hong Kong's Central district. Singaporen actress Michelle Chong and Malaysian lifestyle blog The Idea King are tapped as the influencer and social-media resources for the campaign.
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"We are working with KOLs to create videos to teach consumers how to buy on Tmall and what the promotions are all about," said Foster. She added that the campaign is focused on Tmall and Taobao, Alibaba's core ecommerce platforms, and does not include Lazada, the Southeast Asia-based retailer acquired by the ecommerce giant last year. Taobao, the C2C marketplace, however, was blacklisted by the US government last year over sales of counterfeit products.
"There will be a lot of round-the-clock activities on social media as Single Day approaches, and carefully optimised programmatic during the sales period," said Foster. Far from being a one-day event, the Double 11 festival is preceded by pre-sale promotions and extends until December.
Besides the ongoing Singles Day campaign, Wavemaker will be working on future media activities for Alicloud's B2B2C marketing which will continue into next year. "This is particularly exciting with the [PyeongChang 2018 Winter] Olympics next year," Foster said.
Alibaba became a worldwide Olympic partner through 2028 in January this year, serving as the cloud services and ecommerce platform provider as well as a founding partner of the Olympic video channel.
A version of this article was first published by Campaign Asia-Pacific