Check out this bizarre yellow tongue-strip MLM

Some of my favorite YouTube content creators are the folks who do anti-MLM (multi-level-marketing) videos. What's an MLM? According to a recent article in Forbes:

Multi-level marketing companies use people instead of retail outlets to sell their products to customers. This puts the responsibility for selling into the hands of independent distributor networks.

Under the MLM model, distributors are not employees of the company. Instead, they're individual business owners who recruit their own distributor networks to help them sell products. Multi-level marketing firms rely upon this extended network of independent distributors to generate revenue.

This is also sometimes called "network marketing," and many see it as just another version of a pyramid scheme. MLMs and pyramid schemes are more or less the same things, and at the very least certainly have similar structures, although the FTC deems pyramid schemes illegal while stating that MLMs aren't. That same Forbes article explains:

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), "if an MLM is not a pyramid scheme, it will pay you based on your sales to retail customers, without having to recruit new distributors." Pyramid schemes, meanwhile, rely on continuous recruitment of dues-paying members to stay afloat, even if they require members to keep buying products that they may not be able to sell. For an MLM to be compliant (i.e., legal and not a pyramid scheme), it must adhere to the 70% rule that "at least 70% of all goods sold must be purchased by non-distributors."

Whatever you call them, and however well they skirt the fine line between legal and illegal, more often than not, if you join one, you're going to lose money, no matter what the MLM recruiters showing up in your inbox with a "hey girl!" tell you. Forbes goes on to explain:

On the surface, multi-level marketing companies may appear to be a great way for individuals to become "captains of their own ship" as business owners, creating revenue from products they believe in.

But the truth is that 99% of people who participate in MLMs lose money, according to the Consumer Awareness Institute, as they struggle to resell products and recruit members for network marketing companies that often tiptoe the edges of illegality and hide the true costs of participation from participants.

What's more, the tactics used by some MLMs can take a psychological—as well as financial—toll on distributors.

I've been interested in consumer education for years, and study consumption in my academic career, and it's clear to me that some of the best critical consumer education and advocacy being done right now is by the anti-MLM content creators. One of my favorites is CC Suarez. For a few years now, she's been doing deep dives into the MLM industry, exposing how they prey on consumers, discussing how they sell a "lifestyle" that doesn't really exist (except for maybe a few lucky folks at the top of the companies) and explaining the tactics they use to recruit members and keep them trapped in the system. She's also really funny, snarky, and brilliant, which are all wins in my book. 

She recently posted a video about a new MLM called Elomir, which was founded in 2021 but only recently started gaining traction on social media. Elomir describes itself like this on its website:

Pursue the life of your dreams with ELOMIR! The ELOMIR philosophy is built upon a foundation to leave people better. Through the ELOMIR opportunity, our main focus will always be customers and Brand Partner's experience. Our culture is driven by ensuring that as a consumer and/or Brand Partner, you are provided with not only innovative and impactful products but also receive first class service from our corporate team and field leadership. We firmly believe that you should be able to pursue the life of your dreams. Our tagline is not a gimmick – our opportunity was specifically designed to support your quest to LIVE YOUR BEST and tap into your potential.

Over the last few weeks, "brand partners" who have signed up with Elomir have been heavily recruiting new participants all over Instagram and other social media platforms. Elomir has one product so far, a yellow vitamin gel strip that you put on your tongue to dissolve (kind of like one of those Listerine breath strips). It's called Axis Klӓrity, and on the Elomir website you can see that a box of 30 dissolvable strips sells for $89.00. However, you can also see that if you click on the link to purchase the product, it's not available.

The only option available right now to engage with Elomir is to sign up to be a distributor. In CC Suarez's video, she highlights a video of one of the current distributors pitching the company, and the distributor claims that within the last week or so, Elomir has done one million dollars in sales. So if the product isn't available to consumers, these sales are literally only to new recruits who are buying the product in order to be able to be "brand partners." In other words, Elomir distributors are quickly building their downlines but aren't currently actually selling anything to customers.

Furthermore, many of the distributors who are now trying to recruit more distributors (remember, building a downline is how you make the most money in MLMs) don't even have any of the product themselves, and many are promoting the product by posting selfies and other photographs of themselves with fake product—they are literally holding up tiny squares of yellow post-it notes, and pretending that the post-it notes are actually the vitamin strips. Many have never tried the product, don't have the product, and are advertising photos of fake product—and yet are extolling the virtues of the product and trying to recruit others to pay money to join a company that sells the product. It's all pretty wild. Elomir is also blasting online news sites with promotional ads disguised as product reviews

Is this a real company? Will their product ever be available? Does the product exist? Will the folks at the top run away with the money they've made after revealing that the product is somehow permanently held up in production? I have no idea, but this is one I'm gonna watch. And PLEASE, if you have any say in the matter, don't let your friends and family sign up for this "opportunity." If the company has to say "our tagline is not a gimmick," you should probably run the other way.