Planet Business

Singles Day embraces multitude, Web Summit asterisks shortage and a really carp week

In numbers: Singular joy

$14 billion

Sales racked up by Chinese ecommerce giant


on last year’s Singles Day, an event originally set up by students in the 1990s as a Valentine’s Day-style celebration for the unattached, that has evolved into another pre-Christmas retail marketing exercise.

$11 billion

Sum spent online in the US in the five-day period from Thanksgiving, through Black Friday, to Cyber Monday in 2015. In other words, Singles Day is bigger.



Number of trademarks registered by Alibaba in 2014 relating to the “Double 11” motif. Singles Day is now held every year on November 11th . . . which is today. And the good news is the event is predicted to go global, Black Friday style.

Image of the week: Total carp

There’s plenty of pictures of rich, white supremacists gracing the news wires these days, while at least one famous actor graced the Web Summit in Lisbon, and

Theresa May

was, in the words of Michael O’Leary “faffing about in India”, but what could better sum up the mood of the week that’s in it than a picture (above) of some sad, surprised carp, caught up in a seasonal fish harvest of the Müritz-Plau fishing company in Boek, northeastern Germany. The official caption informs us that carp is a traditional dish in Germany for New Year’s Eve, which is something to look forward to – the end of 2016, obviously, not the carp. Photograph: Bernd Wustneck/AFP/Getty Images

The lexicon: Whitelash

A “whitelash” is a term used to describe a white backlash to black civil rights, or in the context of this week’s news, to summarise the racist, xenophobic response to the period in office of the first black president of the US

Barack Obama

. CNN political commentator Van Jones used the term to describe the election of

Donald Trump

, a candidate endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan. “You have people putting children to bed tonight and they are afraid of breakfast,” said Jones on air on election night. “This was a whitelash against a changing country. It was a whitelash against a black president, in part. And that’s the part where the pain comes.” How very lucky for those who don’t feel or understand that pain.

Getting to know: Dave McClure

Dave McClure’s Twitter feed on Wednesday morning was a portent of things to come. “Not going to lie to anyone . . . Today feels like a giant s**thole. Trying to figure out something useful to take away, but having trouble.” It was perhaps not the best of days to be taking to the stage of the Web Summit in his capacity as founder and troublemaker at 500 Start-ups, a Silicon Valley seed fund and start-up accelerator – a role in which optimism for the future presumably comes in handy. “If you’re not f***ing pissed right now, what is wrong with you? What is f***ing wrong with you, if you are not pissed right now?” he yelled at the arena of tech nerds. Then he made them stand up to “make a goddamn difference”. He went on a bit more in this vein, but we’re all out of f***ing asterisks.

The list: Marketing responses to Trumpocalypse

The signs, at the time of writing, were that the force would be very much with social media marketers charged with racking up a few sales by going all Trump-topical on behalf of their employers.

1. Ryanair:

“Ireland beat New Zealand for the first time, Cubs win the World Series, Trump becomes US president, one million seats from €9.99 . . . Unbelievable. But True,” the airline ventured. Simple. But probably effective.

2. Waterstones:

“Here are six books to read if you ever feel like you’re living in a dystopian nightmare,” the retailer cannily tweeted. It was just two clicks to “add all to basket”. (The suggested titles were

Fahrenheit 451


The Drowned World


Station Eleven


The Running Man


The Chrysalids


The Handmaid’s Tale


3. Boyle Sports:

“Trump 7/2 to be re-elected in 2020,” the Wednesday lunchtime email read. Not now, Boyle Sports. In fact, not ever.