Alibaba lights Olympic marketing campaign

Alibaba CMO Chris Tung tells us about the company’s marketing campaign, as well as its technological support for the Tokyo games and the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics.

Today (June 23) is International Olympic Day, and Alibaba Group, an International Olympic Committee (IOC) worldwide partner, is using the day to launch a new global marketing campaign one month before the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics.

The video, 'Let hope shine brighter together' (see below) was inspired by a comment made by IOC president Thomas Bach’s last year when speaking tot the media about the decision to postpone the games. ”The Olympic flame can become the light at the end of the dark tunnel,” he said.

"The restart of the Olympic Games is like rekindling such a light," Chris Tung, Alibaba Group chief marketing officer, told Campaign. "So we presented this video to inspire the world, encourage and cheer for the athletes to participate in the Olympic Games."

Since Alibaba Group became a worldwide partner of the IOC in 2017, one of its most significant initiatives has been to use technology to help present a more digital and unique Olympic Games while connecting more sports fans, especially young people.

The music in the new film is Mozart’s 12 variations on “Ah vous dirai-je, maman.” One of the most famous variations is the children’s song, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” This musical choice connects the new film to Alibaba's previous campaign for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games, 'To the Greatness of Small'. Chinese pianist Sa Chen plays the music.

Contingency plans and innovations

As in 2018, Alibaba Group is providing cloud technology solutions and global ecommerce platforms as a worldwide IOC partner. Tung said the past year was very challenging for the marketing team, “as there were constant new changes that we had to deal with.” From the moment the Tokyo Olympics was postponed last March, Alibaba started to prepare various contingency plans. The current scenario, an Olympic games without overseas visitors, was within the company's expectations. 

A fully online Olympics means “cloud computing technology has an importance at an unprecedented level for the Tokyo Olympics", Tung said.

OBS Cloud, the cloud-based broadcasting platform launched by Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) and Alibaba Cloud in 2018, will support the demanding content production and delivery workflows of broadcasting the Tokyo games.

Chris Tung


Tung says that due to technological innovations, “the working space of the international broadcast centre will save 25%, and the number of staff to work on the site will be reduced by 27%, compared with the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.“ This year will be the first time that the Olympic broadcasts use 4K-resolution video and even 8K for Japanese broadcaster NHK.

"Cloud technology is the best pillar of Olympic events digital transformation," Tung said, adding that Alibaba is following a step-by-step progression in its technical support of the Olympics, from Tokyo to Beijing and then to Paris and Milan.

The Beijing Winter Olympics will be held only a few months after the Tokyo games. "From the very beginning, Alibaba has two teams working in parallel on all the projects, to make sure that both Olympics will have the best support,” Tung told Campaign

Alibaba Group also designed the “flying ribbon” torch of the Beijing Winter Olympics. According to Chinese media, the winning torch, unveiled in February, was selected from 182 entries in a global competition. One of the judging panel members said it is a “perfect balance” of Chinese culture, Olympic spirit, and industrial technology. 

This story first appeared on Campaign China.

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