Written by: Advocare Facts
AdvoCare is a multi-level-marketing company (MLM), founded in 1993 by Charles Ragus. Charlie once worked as a regional vice president for Fidelity Union Insurance while being a distributor for Herbalife. In 1989 Charlie co-founded Omnitrition International. Similar to AdvoCare, Omnitrition sold nutritional supplements, vitamins and skin care products. Charlie sold out after only a few years when Omnitrition became embroiled in controversy for being a pyramid scheme. The resulting lawsuit, Webster v. Omnitrition International Inc has become a landmark case in the MLM industry.
AdvoCare claims to provide physical and financial wellness through the sale of sports performance, nutritional, weight control, and skincare products (AdvoCare). Similar to other MLM companies, such as Mary Kay, Vemma, and Herbalife, they recruit distributors to sell their products via word of mouth and face-to-face sales, all the while promoting the idea that wealth and success can be obtained by anyone that adheres to their business model.
AdvoCare has put their system together in such way that it strategically misleads people into joining by convincing them that success is as simple as replicating their system. They add to this deception by playing on the desire for quick, easy, weight loss and better health. The reality is that less than two percent of the people attempting to build wealth in MLM ever do, and AdvoCare has never published any clinical trials or studies supporting their product claims.The company controls where and how the product is sold and restricts the use of highly effective social media and on-line sales.
Some have wondered if Advocare also utilizes strategic lawsuits to control how many distributors are active, and to some extent who succeeds. They have incorporated what amounts to meaningless product guarantees as most people have been recruited by family or a friend, and most likely have no intention of returning the products due to the fear of personal retribution. Advocare distributors have incorporated religion and God to ingratiate themselves and take advantage of relationships of trust within faith communicties. This further helps disguise the deceptive behaviors.
AdvoCare advertises that their products are backed by a medical advisory board and third party tested. But there is a darker side to this type of MLM. When you dig into AdvoCare’s sales and marketing training materials, and listen to the people in the “uplines”, people say that a large portion of their actions resemble the tactics employed by cults. They prey on good people who are intelligent, honest, often religious, and driven by passion and desire. These tactics often insist that you separate yourself from family and friends who may be, “naysayers” and that your “upline” then becomes your “family”. After joining, many distributors face family hardships as they work through their warm market and begin to alienate members of their family and friends. Separating you from your family is often a red flag in abusive relationships, cults, and MLM schemes.
Similar to other MLM companies, AdvoCare’s products have a significant mark-up, making them very difficult to sell. This mark-up is necessary to the MLM business model; without the added markup, there would be no money flowing up the chain of distributors to pay the many levels of commissions. Even if AdvoCare users chose not to sell the product, they feel compelled to join as a wholesale distributor just to obtain a 20% discount, or to make family members, or friends (warm market) happy. The nutrition/supplement market is a billion dollar a year industry and the competition is fierce. The unfortunate reality is that in spite of the fact that there is very little – if any – research behind these products, consumers fall prey to the hyped-up claims and convincing marketing. These products do well in MLM because they could never compete in the marketplace if placed on a shelf side-by-side with the competition.
Once someone joins, AdvoCare distributors are directed to use a tactic dubbed, “The Bulletproof Shield”. In brief, this tactic is employed anytime a question regarding how a product works, how it is formulated, questions about general nutrition, how the business works, etc. When you are confronted with a question such as these, you reply with, “Well, I don’t know about that, but what I do know is…” and you go on about some story of success and hope that you’ve effectively deflected the query Imagine speaking to a car salesperson and you ask the question, “What are the reliability ratings of this model?” and the sales person replies with, “Well, I don’t know about that, but what I do know is that my mother-in-law bought a car like this and she raves about how plush and smooth the ride is!”
This course of action is heavily promoted by one of AdvoCare’s top earners, Danny McDaniel, to help deflect any negative rhetoric and avoid even reasonable questions. Even though this tactic is used to avoid the truth, it doesn’t change the fact that more than ninety-eight percent of all active distributors have failed to make any serious money since AdvoCare was founded (see income disclosure statement), and there is no real proof that AdvoCare’s products work as claimed.
As mentioned before, AdvoCare employs a medical advisory board. This delivers the appearance that the products are “backed by science”. While the people on this board might be well respected and accomplished in each of their fields of practice, their role in AdvoCare appears to be small and decidedly monetarily motivated. While it is possible that some of their research has found its way into AdvoCare’s products, there is little proof that they have anything to do with their formulation. Most of these people have not been with the company since its inception and we’ve found no reason to believe that product formulation has changed since they were brought on board. This leaves them looking like nothing more than a marketing ploy. If any of these individuals fully believed in AdvoCare, wouldn’t you expect that they’d state it as such and be honored to represent the company on their personal bio pages? But they don’t! It’s also interesting to note, from what we could find, none of them have publicly claimed AdvoCare products should be used on a regular basis, nor have any of them stated supplements should be used over eating healthy natural food. This stands in stark contrast to the vitriol found all over distributor’s marketing efforts.
According to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, firms selling supplements are responsible for determining that the dietary supplements they manufacture or distribute are safe, and that any representations or claims made about them are substantiated by adequate evidence to show that they are not false or misleading. In order to reasonably accept the claim of “backed by science” logic would dictate that actual clinical trials and studies were conducted. Since AdvoCare has been in business for 20+ years, then there should be reports over 20 years old supporting their product claims. After countless hours of searching, we have been unable to find a single study published by AdvoCare that supports any of their product claims; not on their website, not in medical/sports journals, nowhere.
AdvoCare has formed a strategic alliance with Informed-Choice to certify the products that carry the Informed-Choice logo are banned substance free, although former Olympic swimmer Jessica Hardy may have another opinion. Informed-Choice does NOT test all of AdvoCare’s products, and they only test for the presence of banned substances. What they don’t test for is ingredient quality, quantity, or efficacy. But they would love it if you believed that they did.
AdvoCare promises a wealthy and healthy future that is only restricted by your own efforts. Watch McDaniel’s video “How do you become successful in AdvoCare” to understand this. They utilize testimonials from distributors that claim to have made thousands of dollars just to lure in new people. The majority of these claims come from people who are in a group of income earners that make up less than one percent of distributors. And the claims are accompanied by an income disclaimer. The disclaimer warns future distributors that earning a serious income is not likely, and your location could be a serious factor due to market saturation. Market saturation is another fact of all MLM companies and if you would like to learn more about it please read “AdvoCare: Digging Deeper into Market Saturation”.
AdvoCare people like Danny McDaniel and countless others pursuing “the dream” want you to believe that failure is primarily due to lack of effort by distributors. They believe if you follow their marketing plan, everyone can succeed. Time, and time again we see that the problems surrounding the 95%+ failure rate that permeates the MLM business model have very little to do with effort or desire and everything to do with the way the system is rigged. Very few succeed, period. The vast majority do not make money and they leave countless others in their wake hurt financially, emotionally, or both. No other business model that we know of enjoys such dark and dismal history.
Bottom line, in our opinion, AdvoCare is simply a product based pyramid scheme masquerading as a direct sales company with overpriced, and over hyped products that are similar to every other product you can find in your local nutrition product aisle.
If you’ve been hurt by MLM/Advocare file a complaint with the FTC, click on this link and it will take you directly to the place where you can lodge your complaint. If someone you know is involved with MLM, make sure that they read this article – share it with them and discuss it.
If you’d like to learn more visit the Advo-Truth Facebook page, the AdvoCare Facts blog, or the advotruth.blogspot.com blog.
Very good article. Lots of good useful and definitive information! I was thinking of joining this scheme when a longtime friend asked me to look at a “business” opportunity. I went to a mixer with her and the people there seemed so brainwashed, almost like zombies. Needless to say I had a very bad feeling and told my friend I wasn’t interested. The next week she approached me about doing a 24 Day Challenge. I felt bad so I caved and spent the $300. I had really bad reactions to a lot of the products but she insisted it was just my body cleansing itself. Finally I went to my Dr and he told me to stop. It affected my kidneys and it’s taken awhile for me to get healthy again. My “friend” hasn’t spoken to me and other friends tell me she tells them I’m a naysayer and she’s been told to turn her back on people like me. It saddens me to lose her. We’ve been close since childhood. Maybe someday things will change. I hope! Thank You for spreading the word!!
Shelly thanks for sharing your story, we wish more people would come out and talk more about the side effects many distributors hide.
Thank you for the informative article. I only wish I’d read this before starting the “24 day challenge”. I started the “cleanse phase” on a Saturday and by Sunday I felt awful. I also started developing weird little bumps on my fingers. Looking it up, I thought I had Dyshidrosis. I would have been lucky with just that. Later that night, I developed a sore throat that reminded me of the time I had strep. I broke out in a fever and tossed and turned the entire night through. The next morning, I went to work but I wasn’t really there. My co-workers and boss noticed this and sent me home early. By this point, I could barely swallow my own saliva, but what really seemed strange were the little bumps on my fingers. They had vastly multiplied, become itchy, and were tender to touch. It was past 5 pm so I went to a Minute Clinic at CVS to try to get some answers. My throat came back negative for strep, but the Nurse Practitioner evaluating me had no answers for my hands. The next day, I saw my PCP and by this point, it was painful just gripping the steering wheel to drive to her office. The red bumps had now started to appear on my back and my feet were starting to feel raw as if I had a sunburn on the bottom of them. She prescribed a steroid cream as well as some cetaphil moisturizing cream. If this didn’t help, I was gonna need to see a specialist. As you’ve probably guessed, I saw a dermatologist the next day. But not before having an awful night, being woken up with my hands feeling like they were on fire. At the dermatologists office, she looked at my hands and said “impressive”. This is not something you want to hear a dermatologist say to you. She brought in her colleague as well as an intern to take a look. They also seemed “impressed”. I was diagnosed with erythema multiforme. Go ahead and look it up, I’ll wait. Back? Gross right? It hurts even worse than it looks. I was told it was self-limiting and all i could basically do was wait it out. But she told me it would go away, and just hearing those words gave me hope in a way I’ve never felt before. Basically, I had one of the worst weeks of my life and she told me everything would be ok. Yay for doctors.
Anyway, although there is no proof (yet) that Advocare’s products caused this, it does seem a tad suspicious that a day after using their products to “enhance nutrient absorption” and “provide internal cleansing” (*not evaluated by the FDA) I developed a very rare skin disorder sometimes brought on by “physical stress”. Although it appears to actually help people, I would not recommend it. I would first tell people to look it up and research it thoroughly, unlike me. Thank you.