TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As Chinese real estate behemoth Evergrande faces a crisis of epic proportions, some netizens are attributing its misfortunes to the "Jackie Chan curse" that afflicts companies after they feature the "Clown Prince of kung fu" as a brand ambassador.
Chinese property giant Evergrande Group is saddled with US$300 billion (NT$8.3 trillion) of liabilities and missed a US$83.5 million interest payment on approximately US$2 billion of offshore bonds last week. As the world watches to see if the massive corporation will go bust, human rights activist Jennifer Zeng on Sunday (Sept. 26) pointed out that the conglomerate has been on a losing streak ever since it picked Jackie Chan (成龍) to endorse one of its product lines.
(Aiduo VCD ad screenshot)
As early as 2010, Chan has been mocked by Chinese consumers for the long line of companies that have gone out of business or suffered a downturn in profits after hiring him to promote their brands. Examples of companies that have taken a major hit after hiring Chan include Gree Electric, food company Synear, and Bawang shampoo, while firms that have gone belly up include California Fitness, Fen Huang Cola, and Aiduo VCD.
In 2013, Evergrande launched Evergrande Spring, which it touted as a "high-end mineral water product" that it claimed was "extracted from the natural mineral water of Changbai Mountain." The company soon hired Chan as its official brand ambassador and even had plans to list the company on the stock market.
(Fen Huang Cola ad screenshot)
When the product first hit the market, it sold for five Chinese yuan, far higher than its established rival Nongfu Spring, which sold for one yuan. When rumors spread that the water actually came from the same sources as its cheaper rivals, consumer interest in the product dried up.
Despite eventually lowering the price to one yuan, the bottled water company lost 4 billion yuan from 2013 to 2015, reported iNews. It lost an additional 1.8 billion yuan in 2016, prompting Evergrande to cut its losses and dump the business.
(Bawang shampoo ad screenshot)
An article posted on Tencent QQ in 2020 cited many Chinese netizens as speculating that the demise of the bottled water business was due to the association with Chan, noting that he is on a "corporate blacklist" for his many endorsement failures. However, the article pointed out that other celebrities had endorsed Evergrande Spring as well, including Fan Bingbing (范冰冰), and that it was the early high price point that turned off consumers.
(Gree ad screenshot)
Evergrande Chairman Hsu Chia-yin (left) standing with Chan. (Twitter, Jennifer Zeng image)