Alibaba has partnered with Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant to create and distribute a series of Kobe-branded products in China and to release his documentary “Kobe Bryant’s Muse.”
While the documentary, which reflects upon his struggles and philosophies, would be released on the Tmall Magic Box for about $1.29, Alibaba would work with his company Kobe Inc. to create and distribute merchandise on its retail platforms, Tmall.com and Taobao Marketplace, which are used by over 350 million active buyers across China, according to a press release.
Demand for Bryant’s merchandise in China might seem an oddity to many, but Bryant has a strong fan base among the NBA-crazed Chinese millennials.
“We are thrilled to work with Alibaba Group and Kobe Inc. to introduce Kobe’s philosophies and his inspiring life story to Chinese youth,” said Arthur Wei, microblogging platform Sina Weibo’s senior vice president. “Kobe is a beloved figure with over 3 million followers on his Sina Weibo account, and his stories are destined to inspire and motive many of his fans.”
To market the merchandise, Alibaba and Sina will be collaborating with Kobe Inc. to build a new social media presence aimed at connecting with Chinese followers.
“Kobe is an innovative entrepreneur who has established a legacy that extends far beyond the basketball court and is someone who can bring positive impact to the players and fans of basketball in China,” said Alibaba’s Executive Chairman Jack Ma. “As the the champion of entrepreneurs, Alibaba is proud to welcome Kobe into our ecosystem to work together on this meaningful project which we hope can have a positive impact on the youth in China.”
As Alibaba and Sina work on launching Bryant’s new business line on their platforms, the two companies are also planning on establishing a SMEP (Star, Media, Platform) model for monetizing and connecting American inspirational figures on their platform with the Chinese consumers.