I love it when folks call out multi-level marketing (MLM) schemes and expose them for the predatory scams they are. Recently comedian Ben Palmer, of "Ben Palmer Trolls." brilliantly trolled television-doctor-turned-failed-politician Dr. Oz for speaking at the Direct Sellers Association, a lobbying group that supports MLMs. Dr. Oz has a long history of involvement with MLMs, as Keystone News explains:
This isn't the first DSA event Oz has attended, nor is it the first time he has promoted MLM companies. USANA Health Services, an MLM company, was a sponsor of Oz's television show for much of its 12-year run, according to Politico. He regularly featured the company's nutritional supplements, skincare, and wellness products on his show, calling the company a "trusted partner and sponsor."
Oz allegedly made over $50 million between 2013-2018 promoting USANA products on his show and acted as the brand ambassador, according to a 2018 court filing Politico uncovered.
For the trolling, Palmer created a fake marketing image of Dr. Oz accompanied by a made-up quote: "I'll speak about how pyramid schemes are bad for your health" and, pretending to be a reporter, mailed it to the Dr. Oz team. This led to a back and forth email exchange that involved the Dr. Oz show, the Direct Selling Association, and Palmer as the fake reporter. Much trolling and hilarity ensued.
Read about the project and see the trail of emails and correspondence between Palmer, the Dr. Oz team, and the Direct Selling Association team here.
Here's a brief bio of Ben Palmer, courtesy of his website:
Ben first started writing humor online via a MySpace blog when he was 19. He fell in love with the joy of seeing people's positive reactions to his blog posts. At 21, he performed his first stand-up comedy set at Funny Stop Comedy Club in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.
He continued to do stand-up comedy in Cleveland, Akron, and Kent, Ohio for three years and then moved to Atlanta, GA where he became a regular at the comedy clubs and underground shows. It was in Atlanta where he fused his two passions of humor writing and stand-up comedy into a live show.
At 30, Ben moved to Los Angeles to further pursue his career and work on his live show. He performed at Comedy Central Stage and became a regularly booked act at one of the biggest comedy festivals in the world, San Francisco Sketchfest.
The show features his trolling of hateful trolls on corporate Facebook pages, posing as a city government to air sarcastic gripes about bureaucracy, making up fake cases to get on court TV, and pretending to be a journalist to get reactions from billionaire CEO's and unethical multilevel marketing companies.
In 2020, Ben's TikTok videos began to gain popularity. In the following years, his videos on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram followed suit. Prior to gaining popularity from his videos, his work had been featured in countless news publications and online media outlets.
He tours comedy clubs, colleges, and other venues around the country.
Thanks, Ben – keep up the good work!