Spinning the story of healthy chocolate (UPDATE)

This is a funny update to the Xocai healthy chocolate story. For background, Xocai is marketed as a product that is good for you – “high levels of natural antioxidants and Polyphenols that are found in its cacao can provide a viable solution to individual nutritional needs”. (Or, you can just eat a balanced diet.) But, in reality, the importance of the company is in their recruitment of distributors, that is, a multi-level marketing business, like Amway.

A few days ago I came across this press release and wondered what the heck was going on because I would not have characterized the media attention as positive.

The effect of the massive positive media attention this summer therefore had a tremendous impact on the further spread of the “Healthy Chocolate” concept and it looks like this trend also spread internationally. Since 2008, the recruitment pace has been increased by 2/3 on a global scale and this year in particular has been a historical high for the company with over 11,220 new distributors enlisted.

Sjokoservice Norway’s spokesperson Roger Meyer, the man behind the serious growth had their websites on the domain Sjokolade4you.no but these websites are now updated. The same goes for the website to Sjokoservice Norway. Good news not just for skeptics but consumers of chocolate everywhere. This is the Streisand Effect in full motion.

In a word: spin. The Norwegian blogs are calling a bluff.

Another set of lies from Adam Paul Green « 4brooker.

Green has undoubtedly caught wind of the publicity disaster caused by Sjokoservice in 2012, and has made several valiant efforts to turn the situation to his benefit. He has made sure to post several articles that contain many of the same keywords used by the critics, for instance “chocolate mafia” or “the Streisand Effect”. He also claims that the Norwegian blogger Gunnar Tjomlid has gone back on his earlier statements and asked Sjokoservice´s forgiveness.

Undoubtedly, his latest stunt was inspired by the statistics published in this blog. They show that the recruitment numbers in Norway have dramatically fallen, and that the trend internationally also has been negative in the second half of 2012. He has then published his own statistics that show a massive increase in the Norwegian market after the media hubbub last summer, and salutes the Streisand effect. The problem is that these numbers don´t in any way match real life, but are a complete sham!

[...]Green´s claim that roughly 11 000 new Xocai distributors were recruited, of which almost 4 000 were Norwegian, in 2012. If this were the case, Norway would be the site of a third of the recruitment in 2012.

Green hasn’t even taken the trouble to check whether the numbers he pulled out of thin air are internally consistent. He claims that, on average 654 new distributors have been recruited each month in 2012, which should make 8 000 new distributors. Not that it matters, since people with math skills beyond the very very basic probably are outside Green’s target audience.

Shrewd. Working on search engine optimization techniques. Well, we can always link to sites that question this tactic. I’m not clear if he is even making an effort to use the Streisand effect. Is he suggesting that the BAD publicity increased the bottom line? This is disputable. Frankly, the brand seems to have been dealt a blow from this episode and I don’t think it can gloss that over with a self-congratulatory press release. But it’s a good example of how these promotions work. Xocai is about marketing. Is the product worthwhile? Don’t believe the hype.

More: Xoçai. The “Healthy” Chocolate

Tip: @4brooker via Twitter

UPDATE (9 Jan 2013) : And now he has added “Doubtful News” to the title of the piece. Pretty hilarious. Won’t work.

  4 comments for “Spinning the story of healthy chocolate (UPDATE)

  1. D.Walker
    January 7, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    Slightly off topic, but I’ve read lately that cocoa bean farms are largely worked with slave labor from children.

    • One Eyed Jack
      January 7, 2013 at 5:10 PM

      It’s not lately, That story has been around for ages. It’s both truth and exaggeration.

      Most cocoa “farms” are operated by families (or communities) in 3rd world nations. The entire family (children included) working just to survive is standard. The reality of their life does not fit into a 1st world view of Ozzie and Harriet.

      So while it is true that children work, it’s not really “slave” labor. It’s much like every farming family anywhere in the world, except in a very impoverished situation.

      Efforts should continue to raise their standard of living, but the popularization of the idea that child slave labor (bringing up images of children held captive) is primarily media spin.

      • January 7, 2013 at 7:34 PM

        I don’t want to hijack this thread, so delete as necessary, editor.

        Recently I watched a Hershey Foods promo movie from circa 1968. It was all about kids from around the world at the UN, all in colorful tradition clothes, traveling to Hershey to visit the chocolate factory. One part shows a hard working family in equatorial Africa growing, picking, seeding, and drying the fruit of cacao tree. From grandma to five year toiling away, and this was a positive spin movie which if shown today would be viewed with horror. Some smaller chocolatiers claim child labor free chocolate. I have my doubts. Like everything it’s complicated, but should not cause complacency either.

  2. Am_Sci
    January 7, 2013 at 10:51 PM

    How long until this post gets one of those “I used to be skeptical too, but then I tried it…” comments?

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