In what seems actually a very creative way of advertising to the Chinese students, Ele.me, China’s second largest food delivery service backed by Alibaba, was alleged to have subtly woven itself into a high-school Chinese subject practice test paper used by students in the Yangpu District of Shanghai.
One of the questions in the test paper asks test takers to analyze the design of Ele.me’s logo and give examples which could “showcase the company’s sense of social responsibility”.
One line from the question reads:
“In this Fast-food era, more and more people like to order from Ele.me platform. In order to understand the reasons [of its popularity] and experience its corporate culture, Xiaoming (meaning John Doe) is doing research and invites you to join him”.
A screenshot of the test paper went viral on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent to Twitter, and has attracted more than 127 million viewers as of Thursday afternoon.
Many Weibo users are amused by the seemingly effortless but clumsy attempt to shoot up the corporate image. “Are we really sure this is not a test for job seekers who wish to work for Ele.me,” a Weibo user asked.
An unnamed spokesperson from Ele.me denied any association with the test paper, claiming that they have no contact with the education authority which was in charge of designing the exam paper.
“This is really an unexpected surprise,” an unnamed spokesperson told local media the Paper.
Chinese education ministry issued a notice earlier this year asking schools and faculties to take the responsibility of keeping campuses a “pure land” and banning all kinds of advertising and commercial activities on campuses.
Alibaba’s Ele.me, which is based in Shanghai, has been locking horns with Hong Kong-listed Meituan, which counts food delivery as its major business among other things.
Meituan accounts for more than 64% of the Chinese online food delivery market share, according to a China Sharing Economies report released by The State Information Center of China, a public policy thinking tank.