Watch with bewilderment as Frank Underwood sells Singles Day

11 Nov 2015

Alibaba founder, Jack Ma. Image via Alibaba

While the US is gearing up for Black Friday, China and Alibaba have taken things up a notch by recruiting actor Kevin Spacey, aka Frank Underwood from House of Cards, to promote the consumer holiday, Singles Day.

Originally envisioned as a day for single people in China to treat themselves to a new gadget or outfit, Singles Day has evolved, much like Black Friday, into a giant consumerist behemoth where people splurge out on products with large sale tags.

In fact, the e-commerce giant Alibaba has taken things to a whole new level by holding a four-hour TV event on Singles Day eve just to stir things up even more.

In fact, Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma has been recruiting some of the biggest celebrities in China, as well as Hollywood, surprisingly, to get Chinese consumers even more in a tizzy.

While Daniel Craig’s appearance as James Bond was enough to make you question how much exactly he was earning for his appearance alongside Ma, the one that has arguably made the most impact is Kevin Spacey.

Appearing as President Frank Underwood from the hit show House of Cards, Kevin Spacey spends two minutes telling Chinese shoppers that he wishes he could take part in the spending frenzy, in order to get some burner phones, slightly jarring with his onscreen character.

Alibaba has been in a spending mood of late, having only recently snapped up ‘China’s YouTube’ Youku Tudou for $3.7bn while also posting a 32pc rise in profits during the last financial quarter.

Oh, and how has Singles Day done exactly? Well, in its first 40 minutes it made Alibaba $5bn and by midday closed in on the $10bn mark, which should be enough to pay for some brief celebrity appearances.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic