Premium Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Behind eye-catching 11.11 discounts: The silent flak over Shopee’s 11.11 ad ft. Jackie Chan

Singapore – Global action star Jackie Chan was recently announced as top e-commerce Shopee’s newest ambassador in August which was launched as part of the platform’s 9.9 campaign. Shortly after, Chan makes a comeback to viewers’ screens for the platform’s 11.11 campaign

In light of the backlash from some advertising and creative professionals on Shopee’s current ad for 11.11, MARKETECH APAC reached out to social listening platform Digimind to learn about how the mass audience perceives the latest campaign. 

On October 25, just a few days after Shopee released its 11.11 ad with the international star, Singapore-based marketing expert Richard Bleasdale stirred quite a conversation on LinkedIn by sharing a post about the ad, describing it as the “worst ad ever made.” Soon, the post drew quite traction, serving as an invitation for other creative and marketing leaders to share their verdict on the ad–which was a unanimous disappointment over Shopee’s chosen creative direction.

The general audience, meanwhile, had been split on their perception of the ad. According to Digimind’s analysis, some had found the 11.11 campaign endearing, while a fraction showed displeasure over the latest campaign mixed with some neutral liking.

The main narrative of the ad in question was Jackie Chan fighting off bad guys ‘magically’ through the power of Shopee’s ‘big discounts’. For every press of the actor on his phone, discount bubbles pop up such as “$60 CASHBACK ALL DAY,” sending an enemy down and defeated. 

Screenshots from Shopee’s latest 11.11 ad

Apparently, the negative sentiment by the mass audience drew some parallel with professional opinion, which is Shopee’s seeming failure to leverage Chan’s martial arts prowess. Following Bleasdale’s post, MARKETECH APAC formally reached out to some of the advertising professionals that commented on the post.

A consensus among the creative leaders was Shopee’s perceived faulty decision to favor a fictional story of ‘powerful’ discounts rather than spotlighting the ambassador’s renowned action-comedy branding. 

A leader from ad agency Cheil Singapore described the ad as an “orange mess,” while an advisory board member from martech DAIVID said the ad could have been an opportunity to have “some whacky martial-arts impossibility” performed by the ambassador. 

Digimind had rounded up some definitive comments which had been in agreement with the said professional flak. 

Digimind_ social mentions
Negative and neutral comments on Shopee’s 11.11 ad gathered by Digimind

One tweet said, “I guess Jackie Chan beating up people with a tap of a button is all [we’re] going to get in a Shopee ad.” 

While another wrote on Twitter, “[Jackie Chan] did a [Shopee] ad, my life is ruined.”

Other hostile comments pointed out other ‘less-than-perfect’ elements of the ad such as Chan’s seeming wrinkle-free appearance and how the ad looked like a ‘deepfake’, which is the digital alter of a person’s face. 

“I’m laughing, they [airbrushed] Jackie Chan’s wrinkles…,” one netizen tweeted.

While another one said, “Tell me why I’m so convinced that the Shopee ads with ‘Jackie Chan’ [are] [deepfakes]…” 

According to the report, there were a total of 309 mentions in Southeast Asia, excluding promotional content, about Shopee’s 11.11 ad from the period of October 17 – 31 across leading social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter. 

Digimind social mentions

The study found that Malaysia conversed the most around the campaign with 40% of the mentions coming from the market, followed by the Philippines (30%) and Indonesia (20%).

Digimind top countries

Information from the study also showed that the inaugural Shopee ambassadorship of Chan for 9.9 in August garnered higher traction on social media than the sophomore campaign of the star for 11.11. There had been a 4530% fall in the total volume of mentions for the newer campaign compared to the previous 9.9 over the same period from August 19 – 31.

Shopee’s 11.11 ad was released on YouTube on October 18 across its covered markets in Southeast Asia. Thai viewership of the ad eclipsed the platform’s other markets, registering over 39 million views as of writing.

Digimind’s analysis covered the markets of Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and India.

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Marketing experts, creatives majorly thumb down Shopee’s latest 11.11 ad ft. Jackie Chan

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. 

Screencap from Shopee’s latest 11.11 ad

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. 

Shopee’s 9.9 ad in 2019 with Cristiano Ronaldo

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.