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Media drives ‘open sesame’ moment for Alibaba in NZ

Undertow leads media expedition to explore the inner sanctum of a tech giant

China is the world’s second largest economy and most populous country in the world. Its sizeable and growing middle class offers significant opportunities for New Zealand SMEs and, with upgrades to the China New Zealand FTA on the horizon, the time was ripe to drive awareness and clarity around the Alibaba offering.

In April 2018, a new question was proposed to local top-tier outlets; rather than asking “what can China do for New Zealand?” Undertow Media asked journalists to ponder “how can New Zealand maximise the China opportunity?”.

Locally-recognised as the ‘Amazon of China’ Alibaba Group, started by Chinese businessman Jack Ma and friends in his apartment in 1999, has grown to mythic proportions.

Encompassing more than 40 direct subsidiaries from supermarkets and travel providers to cloud computing and online payment provider Alipay, through to the facilitation and negotiation of multiple cross-border MoUs, various research divisions and active initiatives, Alibaba is growing and developing at an unprecedented rate. Concurrently, the volume and regularity of developments and announcements continues to grow and with the new GST legislation on the horizon it was important for Alibaba to make its presence and intentions known locally.

With a complex and easily-unfathomable infrastructure to explain, what better way to get top-tier media excited by the adventurous spirit and infinite potential of Alibaba, than to actually experience it?

Undertow Media facilitated the identification, outreach and logistical planning required to travel four top-tier media to China, the home of the Alibaba ecosystem, in April 2018.

Carefully-selected outlets including The New Zealand Herald, Stuff, FMCG Business, Hospitality Business and The Spinoff were invited to attend an in-depth, first-hand experience of the story behind the company, enabling them to come to a clearer understanding of what the Alibaba ecosystem and business ethos truly is. The journey allowed a first-hand look at the technological innovations being driven and implemented by Alibaba that are strengthening the sales channels of Chinese SMEs and larger organisations alike.

Ensuring the media in attendance were able to enjoy as many aspects of the Alibaba offering as possible, a bespoke four-day itinerary was created to allow a thorough and varied tour of the ecosystem including access to top tier spokespeople such as the Global Business Development Director Tmall, CFO of Hema Supermarket and the NZTE Commissioner to name but a few. The unprecedented level of access was warmly welcomed by journalists and ensured supplementary information was provided to create clear insight into both the opportunities and challenges facing NZ SMEs looking to enter this large, foreign market.

The experience-based media strategy successfully resulted in the generation of multiple business and technology-focused articles that were spread across mass and trade-specific outlets, ensuring unescapable coverage and a longer-term archive of stories and angles rolled out up to 8 weeks post-famil.


  • 11 pieces of print coverage (and counting)
  • 25 online articles ranging from eDM inclusions to home page features and social media mentions
  • Generating cumulative reach of 3,364,105 to date