Naturally being the worldwide celebrity he is, Jackie has found himself endorsing hundreds of products all over the world, lending his face and image to anything from soda to work out equipment. His most famous endorsement is of course with the Mitsubishi corporation and their car branch whose logo is on display in nearly all of his movies beyond 1983.
Nowadays, Chan has managers and agents who go through the pitches and offers from companies to have him endorse their products and since he is one of the world's most marketable international stars, it is usually a bigger deal when he takes part in American or Japanese commercials and advertisements. Earlier in his career however, his name had yet to be what it is today worldwide which led to less desirable deals in mainland China.
This brings us to the Chinese electronics developer Zhongshan Subor Educational Electronics Co (Zhongshan being the prefecture where they originated and Subor being Spoiled Kid in English). Subor started their company in 1987, producing knock off walkman and VHS players before venturing into the land of Famiclones. The clone systems they developed were nothing out of the ordinary or special compared to the countless others on the market, often being an exact replica of the Famicom console unit. Eventually however they would be in the forefront of releasing the more interesting Famicom keyboard clone systems. Unlike the official Famicom keyboard that Nintendo released for use with Family BASIC, these were built similarly to how the MSX was before it with the system being built into the keyboard itself holding a cartridge slot and controller ports. While there are many Famiclone keyboards today, from the little research that is possible in the field, it seems Subor was one of the very first to develop them as early as 1992. The company also saw success beyond the Chinese border, with them being a huge publisher in Russia as well. Subor differed from many other knock off companies in that they didn't shy away from publicity, and spent great amounts of money to promote their brand on CCTV, the biggest station in the mainland during the start of the 1990's. Due to Subor's efficiency and wide distribution, they eventually had the budget to hire famous Asia based stars and starlets as their spokesperson, often choosing the latest teen pop wonder or Asian beauty queen. In 1994 however, the star they hired was Asia's number one star, Jackie Chan.
One of Jackie's main philosophies in life is to create a better world for children and future generations, building schools and hospitals to ensure proper education and health services, something he has stated many times he missed in his own childhood. In the ways of charity and philanthropy, he has done an incredibly commendable job since rising to super stardom and indeed his movies does often include a strong moral message underneath the breathtaking action. It is for this reason that when having Chan onboard to promote the Subor SB-926 system, it was advertised as a children's learning system rather than specifically a game system which suited the company and Jackie well. This is reflected in all the ads, packaging and even the TV commercial produced. The TV commercial seems to have been taped on the set of Hong Faan Kui (Rumble in the Bronx) which was filming at the time, with Jackie's hair and attire being what he wore in that movie as well as the set looking similar between the two.
The system itself is not much to write home about as expected with Famiclones. SB-926 comes packaged with the keyboard unit, 2 controllers and a multi-cart game. The keyboard unit runs a custom Subor operating system which runs BASIC and MS-DOS. This allows for both writing of own small software as well as running prepackaged applications. Despite being BASIC, it along with MS-DOS is severely gimped meaning that most of the BASIC written software with the Family BASIC language is not compatible. The plastic on both keyboard and the controllers is notoriously cheap, and speedy typing will lead to the destruction of the keys within short time. It also comes packaged with several Chinese word tools and simple math software to go along with its learning system approach. Game compatibility remains similar to the other Famiclone systems though Subor is known as one of the better multi-cart producers, rarely resorting to repeat games even when in the hundreds of titles range.
Jackie's endorsement deals have become the subject of ridicule and debate. Over the years as he has been a spokesperson for the various companies and products, the irony has been that despite his incredible fame and influence through his movies on young people and movie goers, the products he has promoted have always flopped, sometimes at a catastrophic rate leading the company into financial hard times due to the cost of his image and lack of sales on the product. This has led Chinese tabloids and magazines to dub the phenomena "The Jackie Chan Curse", since association with him often leads to controversy. The reality to this situation is more realistically due to fans not seeing much connection to the product itself and Jackie as they know him as well as Chinese media and Chan have never gotten along well so these things escalate into something more than what it really is, though like any celebrity he has stumbled on some bad endorsements. Though FHM China in an article about the Chan Curse detailed the Subor Learning System as a flop, a source from the company (who wished to remain anonymous) seems to disagree with that statement in an email:
...I'm not sure why someone informed you that the system [SB-926] was unsuccessful, in fact it was very good to us. The commercial was also very popular and it ran during very popular evening programming throughout that summer on CCTV. ...I didn't personally work with him [Chan], the filming of the commercial was handled outside of our company, but I cannot recall ever hearing anything negative about this particular business venture. ...I do not think our computer systems is well known for foreigners such as yourself, so maybe that is why there is some confusion. -Anonymous former Subor employee.
2 years later, a second revision with Jackie's stamp and image still featured came out with the SB-486D system. Apart from an updated GUI, said to resemble Windows NT 3.1 in appearance, the system remains virtually identical.
Subor Headquarters in Zhongshan
Subor is still very much in business and rather successful, producing MP3 players, DVD players and cell phones still based on other companies design and technology. They have more recently been noted for selling the Smart Station Wii knock off systems, and most of their games and technology these days is produced by Waixing, the same production house that has been responsible for numerous Famicom pirates, notably Darkseed and Zelda: Triforce of the Gods, the Link to the Past Famicom down port.
It might seem very strange for a celebrity to promote what is blatantly a pirate system and of course illegal, but at the time these things were not as widely known as it is today. Famicom was never officially released in China and so the popularity of the knock offs grew signifigantly, being the only way for many to enjoy the Famicom title library. Jackie, althought a fan of video games, was probably never clued in on the potential hazard this could have done to his business ventures in Japan, but it seems word didn't spread far enough at the time to affect any partnerships.
TV Commercial from 1994