Alibaba unveils car ‘vending machine’, sponsors dump Aussie cricket stars: International round-up

Plus Uber sells South East Asia operation to rival and Dwayne Johnson stars in his new ad agency’s first campaign.

Major sponsors end relationships with Australian cricket stars over ball tampering scandal

Major sponsors of the Australian cricket team’s stars have started jumping ship after the nation’s vice-captain David Warner found himself in hot water over his role in the ball tampering scandal engulfing the national team.

Electronics giant LG says it won’t be renewing its sponsorship deal with Warner, due to his leading role in Australia’s ball-tampering plot during day three of the test against South Africa. He had been a brand ambassador for the company since 2014.

“LG Australia will always look to work with ambassadors that share our core brand values and we take these relationships incredibly seriously to ensure we put our customers, employees and stakeholders first,” a spokesperson says.

Warner, Australian skipper Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft were all sent home in disgrace from South Africa. Smith has also been stripped of his captaincy.

Bancroft was discovered to have been tryng to manipulate the ball’s condition using sand paper. Both Commonwealth Bank and Sanitarium (the maker of Weet-Bix) have also ended their relationship with Smith.

“Based on the ball tampering incident and the findings of Cricket Australia’s investigation, we are unable to continue our relationship with Steve Smith,” Sanitarium Australia’s executive general manager Todd Saunders says.

“Weet-Bix ambassadors represent our brand values of trust and integrity, and they speak to everything that is good about being Australian. Their role as a ‘Weet-Bix Kid’ is to inspire millions of Aussie kids to be the best they can be.”

Meanwhile, Australia’s major cricket sponsors, including Qantas, Sanitarium, Toyota, ASICS and Lion are also said to be reassessing their relationship with Cricket Australia (CA).

CA has since launched an investigation into the incident. According to CA’s annual report, it earned £185min “media, sponsorship and spectator fees” for the year ending June 30, 2017.

READ MORE: ‘A shameful moment for Australian sport’: Cricket sponsors hit out

Uber sells South East Asia operation to rivalUber

Uber has agreed to sell its South East Asia operations – both the ride-sharing and food delivery services – to rival Grab following a heated local rivalry.

As part of the agreement, Singapore-based Grab will acquire all of Uber’s operations including UberEats, the company’s food delivery service, across a region that is home to more than 620 million people.

In return, Uber will receive a 27.5% stake in Grab and Uber’s chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi will join Grab’s board.

The move comes after Uber sold its China business to local rival Didi Chuxing.

Grab offers its services across eight countries in South East Asia and is considered the most popular ride-sharing services in the region, with millions of users.

“(The deal) marks the beginning of a new era in which the merged business would be better placed to serve customers,” Grab’s chief executive Anthony Tan says.

The cost of the deal has not yet been publicised.

READ MORE: Uber sells South East Asia operations to rival Grab

Johnnie Walker launches $15m campaign in Australia

Johnnie Walker is looking to re-establish its footprint in Australia through a new $15m campaign.

It’s been a decade since the drinks giant’s parent company Diageo has launched a campaign for Johnnie Walker down under. The campaign, titled ‘The Next Step’, is the latest instalment of the company’s long-running ‘Keep walking’ scheme and will run for 18 months.

Diageo Australia says the campaign will be activated across multiple channels including out-of-home and digital.

The 45-second spot was developed in partnership with creative agency Leo Burnett Sydney and follows the story of a university student who decides to follow his passion, which is art.

Diageo’s marketing and innovations manager Adam Ballesty, says the company looked into what personal progress means to Australians, and found that to be the ‘journey’ rather than the ‘destination’.

“Johnnie Walker campaigns have always celebrated stories of personal achievement. ‘Keep Walking’ has long been its rallying cry encouraging people to confidently walk their own path,” Ballesty says.

“What we wanted to unlock with this campaign is what ‘Keep Walking’ means for Australians in 2018. Our brand research showed us that the way Australians define ‘progress’ is changing.”

READ MORE: Diageo drops $15 million on Johnnie Walker repositioning

Dwayne Johnson stars in his ad agency’s first campaign

Actor Dwayne Johnson’s agency Seven Bucks has just dropped its maiden campaign, designed to promote Under Armour’s new Project Rock collection – ‘Chase Greatness’.

‘The Rock’ himself stars in the project, which features the first instalment of a year-long storytelling project call ‘Build Your Belief’. The move also marks the first campaign to come out of Seven Bucks Creative – the brain child of Johnson and business partner Dany Garcia.

The new collection includes gym clothing that’s made from fast-drying and flexible fabric that can withstand the “toughest workouts”.

In the advert itself, Johnson can be seen working out alongside three other men on one of the most gruelling circuits you’ve even seen. He explains he once had $7 to his name and decided he was going to “make something of himself.”

“When you’re backs against the wall, the only way out is to put the work in,” he says.

Seven Bucks CMO Chet Gulland says the campaign aims to make consumers rearticulate their vision.

“We wanted to take a minute to think big again and rearticulate the vision, with an eye to being more inclusive to men and women around the world, no matter where you are or are from,” Gulland says.

“As long as you’re willing to put in the work, then you’re part of Project Rock.”

READ MORE: Dwayne Johnson’s new ad agency debuts its first campaign (and yes, he’s in it)

Alibaba unveils car vending machine in China

Alibaba has partnered with Ford to create a multi-level unstaffed car ‘vending machine’ in Guangzhou, China.

The service reportedly allows Tmall customers with “good credit scores” to purchase a vehicle and drive away within minutes. There is also the option to take the car for a three-day test drive.

Firstly consumers choose a Ford model of their fancy before booking a test drive and taking a selfie with the app which is used to confirm their booking. Only those with credit scores of more than 750 can use the service, in which they pay 10% of the fee before driving away. The rest is paid in monthly installments.

This isn’t the first time a car vending machine has be introduced in Asia, with Singapore launching a luxury equivalent last year.

Ford and Alibaba signed a deal in December that would allow the US carmaker to test selling cars to consumers in China through Alibaba’s online retail site Tmall.

READ MORE: ‘Easy as buying a can of Coke’ – Alibaba unveils ‘vending machine’ for Ford

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