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China's Alibaba to target U.S. with ad campaign

Owen Fletcher | Aug. 11, 2009
The move is the latest sign of Alibaba's ambitions overseas

BEIJING, 7 AUGUST 2009 - Alibaba.com, China's top e-commerce Web site, will step up efforts to expand abroad by launching its first large advertising campaign in the U.S. next week, the company said Friday.

The campaign, the latest sign of Alibaba's ambitions overseas, is a core part of a $30 million marketing effort the company is launching abroad this year, an Alibaba spokeswoman said by e-mail. Ads meant to increase awareness and traffic to Alibaba.com will depict characters who used the Web site to propel their companies to success.

The U.S. already accounts for the largest portion of Alibaba's foreign users, who numbered 8.6 million at the end of March. But the Web site, a platform for businesses to buy and sell everything from raw materials to finished products, remains best-known in China.

The Alibaba ads, sporting the slogan "Find It. Make It. Sell It," will run on Web sites like CNN Money and in magazines including Fast Company. Television ads will run on ABC and CNBC, including on entrepreneur reality show Shark Tank.

A separate series of Alibaba events will award grants to new U.S. entrepreneurs, and similar ad campaigns will run in other countries, Alibaba said.

A video clip on the initial version of the campaign's Web site showed a man saying he used suppliers found on Alibaba to build a successful action figure business.

Executives including Alibaba Group CEO Jack Ma visited the U.S. earlier this year for talks with potential partners including Google, eBay and Amazon.com. Topics discussed included possible U.S. ventures for two other Alibaba operations, online payment provider Alipay and online retail and auction site Taobao.

In another potential overseas move, Alibaba is considering forming an Indian joint venture with a reseller it already works with in the country, a company spokesman said, declining to give details. India is Alibaba's second-largest foreign user base, behind the U.S.

 

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