Bryant may endorse Ele.me site
THE online food ordering and delivery offshoot of Alibaba Group Holding is likely to get an endorsement from retired NBA star Kobe Bryant as it tries to shed its image as a platform for questionable food vendors.
A mock-up advertisement of Bryant posing for the online-to-offline food application Ele.me has gone viral on China's social network.
There is only one line of text in the advertisement: "You Hungry?" which is a direct English translation of Ele.me.
An internal note of Shanghai-based Ele.me, which has been leaked online, said the company would officially announce Bryant's endorsement next Tuesday.
The app, which is the biggest player in online food ordering and delivery, was named and shamed by China's state broadcaster on a widely watched TV programme in March. It was found to be allowing unqualified vendors to sell food through its online platform.
Yang Xu, an analyst with Beijing-based Internet consultancy Analysys International, said the media spotlight had some negative impact on Ele.me's online orders in March.
"But it has since stepped up efforts in food safety control and its business has picked up since April after gaining the US$1.25 billion (S$1.69 billion) investment from Alibaba and its finance arm," she noted.
Ele.me's competitor Baidu Waimai has won endorsement from Liu Shishi, a popular actress, as the app targets China's white-collar users.
Zhang Qing, founder of Key-Solution sports consultancy, said China is a very important market for Bryant to carry out his post-NBA business, thanks to the huge number of NBA fans in the country.
ASIA NEWS NETWORK