Space: the final frontier… for brands and shopping? Seems to be the way things are going. One-upping Messrs. Musk and Branson in the space-as-a-plaything stakes, Alibaba have decided to launch their own satellite and a mini-space station to mark the festival of consumerism that is 11.11, also known as “Singles’ Day.”
The small scale space station will be called Candy Tin, and the satellite will be named Tmall International, according to reports. China Daily stated that the “purpose is to enhance user experience during the 24-hour shopping extravaganza” — that, and to generate media coverage like this, we expect. CD went on to say that “space technology will better serve the integration of online and offline shopping interactions during the festival.” Offline shopping interactions… in space?
It’s not clear quite what Alibaba’s involvement with the development and production of this “space technology” has been exactly, but launching objects into the stratosphere seems like the natural next step after having Pharrell Williams and Luis Figo appear at a promotional gala last year. Okay, maybe not the natural next step, but that gives us an excuse to post this video of Pharrell performing with Kris Wu for Singles’ Day 2017 (you really have to watch this):
For the uninitiated, Singles’ Day was once a delightfully cynical push back against the saccharine romanticism and pressure to couple up that pervades most areas of Chinese society. In the last decade, it’s become a more corporately cynical way to get people to fill the void in their lives by buying stuff, with first Taobao and Tmall, and now a whole host of online shopping platforms, offering an array of deals. What started out as a one day thing has also widened to take over almost an entire month, with “pre-deals” already underway on a number of sites this year.
Alibaba’s Taobao and Tmall brands still pretty much “own” 11.11 though, and its they who’ll be throwing another star-studded gala on the day this year to encourage online shoppers to open their digital wallets. The company’s aim this year — the tenth anniversary of the sales event — will be to top the 25 billion USD they raked in through Singles’ Day promotions in 2017.
Alibaba’s Singles Day Gala Blurs the Line between Shopping and Entertainment
China Dreams of Extraterrestrial Tourism as the Country’s Private Space Race Takes Off
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