Controversial Wellness and Multi-Level Marketing Company AdvoCare Makes a Change At the Top

The Plano-based wellness and multi-leveling marketing company AdvoCare International will get a new chief executive officer. The firm named Brett Blake this morning, replacing Brian Connolly.

I’m bringing this to your attention in part because it gives me a reason to point you toward a story that’s worth your time.

AdvoCare relies on hundreds of thousands of independent sales people to distribute its products, which include things like meal-replacement shakes, energy bars, supplements, and skin care products. It’s assembled an impressive, albeit somewhat random, cast of celebrity endorsers that range from football stars Drew Brees and Jason Witten, to golf’s Lee Jansen, to various role players across professional basketball, hockey, and soccer. You’ll find its logo on the front of FC Dallas’ jerseys and at mid-field at college football bowl games.

However, ESPN’s Mina Kimes dug into the AdvoCare model in 2016 and found salespeople left feeling that they’d been fed false hope. A short excerpt:

This pitch — the promise that if you sign up for AdvoCare, you can reap “rewarding” financial results — draws tens of thousands of new distributors every year. But an Outside the Lines/ESPN The Magazine investigation has found that few of those salespeople will ever achieve that vision. In reality, only a tiny fraction of AdvoCare members earn anything close to a modest income, even as they’re pressured by higher-ranking distributors to keep buying inventory. “They plant the seed that you’re gonna make money — life-changing money,” says Gabriel Chavez, who joined in 2010.

Multi-leveling marketing is an interesting business model to begin with, and Mina’s story is an up-close examination into one such, quite successful company right here in Dallas-Fort Worth. Just in case you’re looking for a lunch-time read. (AdvoCare, it should be noted, did not care for the story.)

As for this particular leadership change, Blake gets the call up after joining the company as president of global sales and strategic planning in October. He’ll continue to oversee those two areas in his new role as CEO, the company said in a statement. The change goes into effect on April 1.

Blake’s background includes leadership stints at custom jewelry company Origami Owl and fitness company Beachbody, both of which utilize multi-level marketing. He replaces Connolly, whom the company says has been serving in an interim role since all the way back in October 2015. Richard Wright retired from the spot before that.

Former distributors of AdvoCare filed a lawsuit against the company last year alleging that it’s operating a “pyramid scheme,” as the Dallas Morning News reported.

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