05 February 2009

Pyramid scheme or cult?

Today, I received an interesting little message on Facebook. It came from a person I knew in high school. This person and I were barely friends, but decent acquaintances. The point of the message was to entice me about a healthcare product called Advocare.

As you will see, I have omitted the person's name at the end, but otherwise, this is the exact message I received:


I have been thinking of my friends and family a lot lately (especially you) and I wanted to let you know that I apperciate you.

I am just wondering if you would like to make some money ($30,000 to $40,000 per year part time), feel better, or just look better (and maybe lose a few pounds in the process). Because I did, I wanted to feel better, look better, and yes lose some weight.

I am so EXCITED about a product that I have been on for a while now, and finally have started to use is correctly. I feel so good, I want to share the news with you.

Please call me, email me, facebook, or even show up on my door step, I just really want to share my story with you about how Advocare changed my life, and how it can change yours too.

If you are not interested please tell anyone who maybe interested to give me call.

With the warmest thoughts and wishes,

(Person's name)
Uh, okay.

My favorite part is the fact that it's meant to sound like it was personally written, but doesn't even have my name in it. But apparently I've been "especially" on this person's mind. (Creepy.)

And while it seems pretty obvious this is some type of pyramid scheme, it also sounds like a cult. An Advocare cult.

I went to the person's Facebook page. The status updates for the last two weeks are all about Advocare:
...just took a Advocare Spark and is feeling GREAT!!! How about you?
...is at work and LOVING HER ADVOCARE!!!!!!!!! It is going to be a good day!!!!!!
...is at work and LOVING HER ADVOCARE!!!!
...is at work and Thanking God for Spark and Advocare!!!!!!!!
...is wondering if anyone else would like to have more engery, lose a few pounds, or make some more money? I am doing all three and want to help you do.
...is wishing I had my Advocare spark. My butt is dragging. :)
...is loving her Advocare for giving her energy!!!
...is at work and wondering if this is all there is? Work day in and day out just to get by?
I wonder if this Advocare thing started somewhere between the last two updates? Existential crisis. Then Advocare. Crisis solved! Advocare is a miracle worker!!!

Update 9/15/2011: I heard from an Advocare devotee, who was actually quite nice and just wanted to share a different perspective on Advocare. Fair point: perhaps the tactics of some of those who are selling the product don't actually reflect the product itself. If I were more industrious, I would probably do more research, but...nah.

Here's the email I received in its entirety:
Hi Tanner :)
I stumbled upon your blog thanks to Google not relaying my search request appropriately...i can't even remember what it was now. Anywho, I tried to comment on one of your blog posts about your delightful friend that attempted to solicit you to join their "Advocare cult/pyramid scheme" but you'll soon notice that I am not a woman of few words. I apologize in advance for how long it is. I just can't stand it when dumb people join AdvoCare and do the things you and the other commenters complained of. I highly doubt you'll A. read my response at all or 2. trust that I am being sincere with everything mentioned. I'm not posting my website or any kind of link to try and sell you anything. Last thing I'd like to touch base on is the Cult/Pyramid Scheme reference to AdvoCare. 1. Imagine the movie, "Yes Man!" ....we are NOT that. 2. The definition of Pyramid Scheme is a non-sustainable business model that requires an investment in which there are no actual products, goods or services being returned on that investment. In AdvoCare, you never put money in where you don't get what you paid for. Example: Products @ retail cost- you choose to purchase a box of "X" product that costs "X" amount of dollars. Even exchange. Thats called Free-Enterprise. Now, when someone signs up for a wholesale/costco-ish membership just wanting a discount- $79 for a kit that includes a website, $50 worth of products, instant 20% discount on all products-no hassling-no minimum purchase requirements, nothing. Assume that new Member/Distributor decides they'd like to have a full stock of their nutritional supplements(equal to someone that purchases from Costco in bulk)- They choose to order $1500 of their products and click to Checkout only to notice [insert lightbulb moment here] that they now have a 30% discount on their products for-ever and are only paying $1,050 for them. Therefore, they purchased $1500 in product for $1,050. Then their neighbor decides to buy $150 worth of product from them....they have the right to choose to charge Retail Cost(making a profit of 30%) or giving a discount as high as what they paid for the product. Either way, no money is lost, investment-returned. High five. Hallelujah. Amen! :) I've said my peace. Thank you for your time and please take this as informative...not argumentative. I come and leave in peace. lol

"First things first, I AM a part of AdvoCare but prior to taking products/becoming a part of the company, I made fun of all of the girls I knew that were taking these products...until I tried them. I researched every possible thing I could find on AdvoCare-hunting for all things bad that would disprove my own instincts. I like to consider myself a modern day "nancy drew" and I dug deep. Low and behold, the products and the company are legit. I'm no millionare, nor do I profess that I anyone will make millions from doing the business. The facts are facts when it comes to AdvoCare. I have my own product & business story but it really doesn't matter cause there are a million of both out there. I have many friends, family members and people I've never met before AdvoCare that are signed up with AdvoCare. Some wanna enjoy their discount & thats cool. Some want to earn an income-thats cool also. I'm here to help with whatever they need but I certainly don't push products on people or make them feel bad if they aren't interested. Not everyone is that way, I know. One or two rotten apples can spoil the whole dozen...in this case, there are probably thousands of bad in a lot of 160,000. That being said, those friends of yours need to be told to pipe down cause they're ruining it for the rest of us. As far as the products and AdvoCare as a company, I will strongly disagree for a few of many reasons:

*The founder of the company, Charlie Ragus, was already wealthy and didn't need to start the company to make a profit. He said, "We are going to do one thing better than anyone on the planet."
*Our products are formulated by 12 doctors on our Scientific & Medical Advisory board with over 250 years combined experience. One of them: Dr. Stanley Dudrick. Google him. He pioneered the invention of TPN (intravenous feeding through the tube). These doctors aren't going to put their prestigious reputations on the line for products that aren't of the utmost quality.
*All products are Informed Choice certified aka tested for over 196 banned substances. Safe enough for Olympic Athletes & professional athletes. You will find AdvoCare products in every single NFL locker room for not only the fact that our products WORK, but they don't have to worry about failing a drug test and ruining their careers. AdvoCare is also NCAA certified. Which leads me to our UNPAID endorsers: Colt McCoy, Carli Lloyd, Christian contemporary artist-Michael W. Smith and our National Spokesperson- Drew Brees, whose only monetary form of payment is AdvoCare's donations to his Drew Brees Foundation...just to name a few.
*Look up the "Texas Tech Spark Study: Spark vs Ritalin" Also, Spark has less the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee. I'll be glad to post a comparison chart.
*FDA approval means absolutely nothing. AdvoCare doesn't fall in the category of companies that need FDA approval. We are a Nutrition company. We are not a Food or Drug company. However, I always wonder to what standard people hold the validity of any FDA approved product. Visit the FDA website and check out how many recalled food or drug items there are for that certain day. TONS. Infectious diseases, medications that weren't manufactured correctly, etc etc. Fen-Phen was FDA approved...research that one a little bit.

Even though the above mentioned facts are just the tip of the iceberg as far as AdvoCare, it hurts my heart that people get so caught up in the money hungry part of it that they don't even stop to realize that the difference in AdvoCare vs any other Health Food store/GNC/wal mart vitamin is that these. products. work. They work when in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise. Sorry, but there is NO magic pill and we don't advertise that. If you didn't gain that 80+ lbs overnight-don't expect to lose it overnight. If you haven't tried the products-you can't judge the products. If you're not a part of the business-you can't judge its validity. When someone doesn't have success with the products or business, there is something they did wrong. I have both success stories on the smaller spectrum of the company but paying off $17,000 & becoming debt free in a year to be able to stay at home with my 2 year old and finally have the option to purchase a home WHILE enjoying products that keep me feeling great & semi-sane most days ;) ... improving my health and the future of my family-I have AdvoCare & my hard work to thank for it. Sorry for the novel yall!"


  1. I have several of the same types of friends on Facebook. One of them is somewhat angry with me because I told her I did not want to come to one of her Advocare mixers :/

  2. I have a great friend who i love dearly constantly trying to push the product on me. The ingredients are crap, but she says otherwise. She ka very fit and beautiful, and gives props to the product. Thats cool and all, but its really overpriced and instead, i get my supplements from the health food store. Advocare members are Christian and there are alot of conventions where, from my perspective, people are being brainwashed into thinking theyll be millionaires from selling this product. Its hard to find honest reviews.about it bc most if the websites that come up are somehow supported by advocare. Well, keep being honest w ur friend about mot wanting to use the product. I havent done it bluntly bc i know itll piss her off. but im no fool, ive done the research. People may lose .lbs on the product, but it doesnt mean that it is healthy or of good quality. Its not even fda approved, and alot of their products have maltodextrine, dyes, sucralose, taurine, and hella caffeine.