Singapore – In August this year, top e-commerce platform Shopee unveiled its newest endorser, probably its biggest ambassador to date – global superstar Jackie Chan.
Following the announcement, Chan’s first visibility was for the platform’s 9.9 sale, and now the renowned action celebrity is back to grace Shopee’s campaign for 11.11.
Both advertisements with Chan were nothing short of the e-commerce’s creatives DNA – a cheerful and upbeat mood, animated movements, and of course, Shopee’s staple soundtrack.
However, on the back of the recent release for 11.11, some marketing and creative professionals on social media gave their verdict on the ad – which leaned towards disappointment and frustration over its creative execution.
On Monday, October 25, Richard Bleasdale, a specialist advisor at media investment analysis firm, Ebiquity, shared an article about the ad on a LinkedIn post with the comment, “Is it just me? Or is this without doubt the worst ad ever made? I challenge anyone to nominate better (worse).”
The post attracted other creative experts and advertising leaders to share opinions of their own, which had a resounding rejection of the ad’s conceptualization and overall direction.
“The bar is very low…”, one ad leader wrote, while one marketing leader pointed out how the ad made him “lost for words.”
Another agreed to Bleasdale, commenting, “I know what [you] mean. Very disappointing. Was hoping for more [Jackie] action.”
MARKETECH APAC‘s Inner State reached out to some of the marketing executives that jumped on the post for their official insights on the ad.
A common sentiment among the marketing executives was how the brand failed to leverage Chan’s superstar imprint of action coupled with comedy.
Shopee’s 11.11 platform-wide sale is running from October 25 to November 11, and the campaign was launched on October 18 on the platform’s YouTube channels across its covered markets.
The ad showed Jackie Chan on the street, being slowly approached by dangerously looking men. With an impending fight scene, Jackie is seen mustering his strength to prepare to defend.
Throughout the 30-second ad, Jackie is able to fight off the men with Shopee’s ‘Big Sale’. Using only his phone, Jackie magically defeats the men by powering through Shopee’s ‘big discounts’, where for every press of a button, discount bubbles pop up, such as “$60 CASHBACK ALL DAY” and “$6 OFF EVERY $50” off the phone and beat the men down.
Anand Vathiyar, managing director of Cheil Singapore, describes the ad as an ‘orange mess’, a reference to the platform’s orange branding
“Jackie Chan’s brand equity is action-comedy…Shopee could have done something [on what] we’ve come to love Jackie for instead of the orange mess they’ve rolled out,” said Vathiyar.
Echoing this, Rob Sherlock, advisory board chairman at martech solutions DAIVID, said, “I do think they could have taken Jackie Chan’s trademark antics and dialed them up into something even crazier, more ‘action’ exaggerated – and still have Shoppee fully integrated into the story.”
He adds that instead of handing Jackie a mere phone in an attempt to inspire action to the ad, Shopee should have had “some whacky martial-arts impossibility performed by Jackie.”
“And make the Batman & Robin pow-wow cartoon bubbles more integrated into everything we love about the man,” continued Sherlock.
Meanwhile, Bleasdale, the one who published the LinkedIn post, shared to MARKETECH APAC that he thinks the ad has been “devoid of any idea.”
When asked what Shopee could have done better, Bleasdale said, “Start with a real brief – with a clear objective and a compelling consumer insight. Anything that responded to that would be better and more effective than this.”
On one hand, executives were also quick to poke on the past Shopee ad with professional footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, saying that the e-commerce brand had been underperforming with its campaigns even before when it signed the Portuguese sports personality in 2019.
The two-year-old ad puts Ronaldo on a football field where shortly after scoring a goal, audiences in the stadium start changing into an orange-wearing army with the trademark Shopee pop-ups coming out of each one. At the middle to the end of the ad, Ronaldo performs the Shopee dance together with his team.
According to a survey done by consumer research Milieu, 24% of audiences in Singapore ‘dislike’ the 9.9 ad with Ronaldo in 2019, with 56% ‘liking’ it. Of those that disliked the ad, stated reasons were they found it “silly” (60%), made them cringe (60%), and was “annoying” (47%), and lacked product information (37%).
For Sherlock, Ronaldo was the worst use he’s ever seen of a mega-celebrity and thinks if Shopee had done a low-quality ad the first time, it would be difficult to redeem itself.
“It probably worked, drove sales, and tattooed the brand in the consumers’ brains. But, like any sequel, it’s hard to improve on the original – or in this case, be intentionally ‘so bad it’s good’,” said Sherlock.
MARKETECH APAC has already reached out to Shopee for a comment.
Shopee’s presence expands Southeast Asia and Taiwan. For the latest 11.11 ad, the Thailand market paid the ad a staggering 30 million views on YouTube as of writing.
The e-commerce platform continues to be the top platform in Southeast Asia with the most visits by consumers in 2020, trailed by Lazada.
Inner State is MARKETECH APAC’s dedicated platform for industry deep dive.