Alibaba breaks own record in ‘Singles Day’ shopping frenzy

James Bond and Frank Underwood help sell the event, an invention of Jack Ma

Alibaba founder and chairman Jack Ma and actor Daniel Craig pick some ‘Singles Day’ winners.

Alibaba founder and chairman Jack Ma and actor Daniel Craig pick some ‘Singles Day’ winners.


James Bond and President Frank Underwood were among the big salesman on China’s Singles Day, the world’s biggest online shopping bonanza, as e-commerce giant Alibaba broke its own records.

Singles Day is a consumer frenzy like none other on the planet. In some ways similar to the post-Christmas sales in Ireland or “Black Friday” in the United States, though much bigger, it is also referred to as Double Eleven because of its date.

The invention of Alibaba founder and executive chairman Jack Ma, a version of Valentine’s Day on which single people, especially men, are encouraged to spend money on themselves, using Alibaba platforms.

By early Wednesday afternoon Chinese time, sales had already hit 63.6 billion yuan (€9.29 billion), and they exceeded last year’s 24-hour total of 57.1 billion yuan (€8.34 billion) with 12 hours to go.

The Singles Day surge is not so surprising when you look at retail sales figures, which rose 11 per cent in October despite slower overall economic growth.

The government has been trying to push the economy towards services and consumption away from traditional mainstays such as manufacturing as part of its efforts to create China’s “New Normal”.

“There’s been news that this year’s event is more global with international players joining in,” said Euromonitor’s Shanghai-based senior research analyst Fangting Sun.

“It will definitely stimulate not only the domestic consumption but also imports and exports as Alibaba aims to both attract more international players selling products to China and the domestic players to expand to the overseas markets.”

The focus for the day’s shopping frenzy was an extravaganza at the Water Cube in Beijing, where Ma welcomed such luminaries as the unfeasibly popular Taiwanese singer Jolin Tsai, alongside Korean superstars Rain and CNBlue in a show directed by one of the country’s leading filmmakers, Feng Xiaogang.

Then came Bond, James Bond, in the shape of Daniel Craig, who put international espionage on the back burner for a few hours to help Jack Ma sell some cars.

Mr Craig played a lucky draw game with Ma, picking, naturally, 11 winners who could each buy a Cadillac for one yuan (15 cents).

Also there was Adam Lambert, and a very special video message.

“If this Singles Day is the excuse you’ve been waiting for to spoil yourself with a little online shopping, then I must say I’m more than a little jealous,” said Kevin Spacey, in character as the dark president from the House of Cards show.