Alibaba bolsters Western presence in landmark tie-up with CNBC


By Jessica Goodfellow | Media Reporter

December 1, 2016 | 4 min read

In a surprise move financial news network CNBC has secured sponsorship for its new UK show Pop Up Start Up from Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, a move which indicates the latter is attempting to get a Western footing by chasing media deals as well as retail ones.

Alibaba dominates the Chinese market but despite a number of deals with British retailers, including a Sainsbury’s deal to sell products from its Taste the Difference and So Organic brands through Alibaba’s Tmall Global marketplace, the appears to still be trying to drive awareness of what it does and convince brands of its value in the Western market.

Last year Alibaba appointed its first UK managing director, former Tesco executive Amee Chande, signalling itsintent to work more closely with British retailers.

CNBC and Alibaba's joint venture Pop Up Start Up launched last night

CNBC and Alibaba's joint venture Pop Up Start Up launched last night Amee Chande, Alibaba’s head of global strategy & operations

Now the brand is eyeing up partnerships the UK media as a means to build brand outside of retail. The deal with CNBC marks Alibaba's first major sponsorship of a UK programme.

As part of the deal, Alibaba will have advertising at the top end of the show and at the ad breaks, as well as product placement within the show.

It is also the first time that CNBC International has offered a product placement opportunity.

Sophie Wu, president of wholesale marketplaces at Alibaba Group said: “We really see Pop Up Start Up as a great illustration of how to do business in today’s dynamic environment. We look forward to showcasing the huge talent of the contestants and hope to provide inspiration to UK startups and small businesses around the world on how to join in the new digital economy.”

The latest marketing news and insights straight to your inbox.

Get the best of The Drum by choosing from a series of great email briefings, whether that’s daily news, weekly recaps or deep dives into media or creativity.

Sign up

The new entertainment show will follow twelve aspiring manufacturing entrepreneurs who go head to head to win a £20,000 cash prize. In each episode, two candidates are given seed money and challenged to mass produce and sell their products in a pop up shop.

Expert mentors and judges including former UK Chairman of Interbrand Rita Clifton CBE, Boxpark founder Roger Wade and Pete Wild from Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, will provide guidance and advice to the contestants on how to manufacture, import, market and sell the products. The contestant who makes the most profit each week wins the £20,000 prize.

Martin Conroy, executive producer at CNBC International, added: “Pop Up Start Up speaks to the network's entrepreneurial spirit and also fits well amongst our evening programming slate. We know our audience has a real appetite for business programming with personality and Pop Up Start Up delivers just that.”

The six part series debuts on CNBC International on 16 December at 10pm. Video agency Hub brokered the media deal and created all commercial content for the partnership.


More from Media

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +