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Volume 7 No. 149
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Alibaba's Olympic Deal Is Beating 'Expectations So Far,' Exec Says

Alibaba CMO Chris Tung
Photo: getty images

Alibaba executives believe its landmark global Olympics sponsorship has delivered “tremendous value” in the two years since the deal was struck.

“Lots of things have happened, and it’s working surprisingly, very, very well for us,” CMO Chris Tung said. “It goes beyond our expectations, so far."

Tung took the occasion of the second anniversary of the Chinese retail giant’s 11-year deal with the IOC to reflect on the expansive relationship. Alibaba owns the global cloud services and e-commerce platform service category with the IOC, a position that puts it at the center of the IOC’s efforts to become a more digitally focused property.

Alibaba’s Olympics work has been closely watched by the sponsorship industry, partly because it’s the company’s first major effort to globalize its brand. But also, Alibaba’s technical in-kind contributions to the Games have come through partnerships with other sponsors, who each have their own exclusive marketing categories. For example, Alibaba and Intel recently announced a new athlete-tracking technology they expect to introduce at Tokyo 2020.

Tung said collaboration is in Alibaba’s DNA as a retail site that hosts thousands of stores. “It’s our duty to be able to amplify every TOP sponsor’s resources and redefine TOP networking strategy,” Tung said. “That’s what we’re doing, and you’re going to see more.”

Alibaba has built a cloud server for Olympic Broadcasting Services, which will be made available to media rights holders such as NBC. They claim it will give broadcasters easy access to archival footage and other content without having to ship their own servers to the Games.

Also, Alibaba has launched an online Olympics e-commerce store in China, a precursor to its promised global Olympics shop. Tung declined to give a launch date for the global e-commerce site.
Alibaba will continue its “The Greatness of Small” social campaign, which started at the Pyeongchang Winter 2018 Games.

“We got a huge boost in brand affinity” after Pyeongchang, Tung said. “The goal from a business standpoint is to introduce Alibaba as one of the most innovative companies in the world, and to our business partners around the world by participating in the process of transforming the Olympic Games into the digital Olympics.”