As a blogger, you sometimes (ok, all the time) wonder if what you do matters. You wonder if your words make a difference. You wonder if your words are even read.
And then, sometimes, something wonderful happens
The chances are that if you are reading this, then you’ve probably also read my Great Run Herbalife Blog
Together with the equally wonderful Helen Tamblyn -Saville, we started the Great Run Herbalife petition and a social media campaign to convince the Great Run Company that their partnership with Herbalife was wrong. Over 2 days we gathered over 1,800 signatures and gained support from across the world (running truly is a global community).
WELL, THE NEWS IS JUST IN AND WE DID IT! WE BLOODY WELL DID IT!
Great Run listened to us and more importantly they listened to the thousands of runners and those opposed to mlm who were voicing their displeasure, signing our petition and even withdrawing from events (this was not something that I wanted).
This was a victory not just for us and the runners, but for every blogger and influencer out there.
Social media gives us the power to create change and when used effectively we really do become influencers.
When we first decided to campaign against this partnership, Helen and I hoped that it would result in Great Run terminating the deal. We both knew that there was the possibility that we might attract some unwanted attention (it was minimal) and we were prepared for the eventuality that ultimately, we would fail.
After all, we are both relatively unknown bloggers (speak for yourself HowManyMiles, I hear HelsBels screaming) and neither of us have huge followings, despite the awards that she has and the organisations that I write for and advise (yes, I would love it if you stuck around for more of my blogs or even checked out some of my older ones).
But what we do have is integrity, passion and fire in our bellies (let’s start a mlm scheme selling that, Helen). We also had wifi which is just as well. Throughout each day and every day of the campaign we were messaging each other (we also had trusting partners) to discuss every 10 new signatures on the petition and every new share of our blogs. Together we worried about every stall in signings and together we celebrated every milestone. We hatched plans and coordinated our tweets.
This was the very epitome of collaborative working.
And as the signatures and blog views increased, we started to attract increasing support.
Fitness Legend (I won’t have anyone say different) Ben Coomber was responsible for a huge spike in traffic, shares and precious signatures. We were gaining momentum and we started to believe that we could win
And then….Herbalife’s PR team emailed me, stating that my blog was inaccurate and inviting me to learn the truth behind the brand. Throughout the exchanges, they were nothing but polite, courteous and professional.
In the end, they did not elaborate on what inaccurate statements that I had made and a few hours after their last email, Great Run made their announcement.
And what a welcome surprise it was.
Up until this point, Great Run had not responded to any tweet (and there were many) and they had made no indication that they were taking this campaign seriously.
In fact, as the resistance escalated and the number of event withdrawals increased, I held out an olive branch to Great Run via one of my friends who still worked there. I pleaded with her for a response and within 24hrs, Great Run did exactly that, although indirectly.
Great Run deserve credit for listening to runners and for acting so courageously, decisively and so swiftly. It could not have been an easy decision to make, and it should never have been one that was needed, but I totally respect the fact that they did not flinch from doing the right thing.
One just has to Google Herbalife to see how toxic a brand they are. Sure, they have many partnerships (Ironman, we are coming for you next), but some due diligence by the commercial team should have red-flagged this as a partnership not worth entering into.
I can only think that it was worth a lot of money. Enough to cloud Great Run’s judgment.
Hopefully, this decision means more than the end of the partnership (good luck Great Run with the task of finding a more befitting partner). Hopefully it can be the start of more ethical and less inappropriate sponsorship of sporting events.
It is my opinion that Brands like Coca Cola and McDonald’s have no place in sport (the win is making me brave) and more sporting events need to look at what has happened here and wonder if they are next. For we have shown that what we do does matter; it does make a difference.
As bloggers and influencers, we should not be afraid to speak out, as people do read and act upon our words.
I’ll leave the final words to Helen, who was arguably the driving force and the Batman to my Robin (now I think that we are superheroes) while I enjoy another celebratory homemade Japanese Knotweed brew (don’t ask) with my neighbour:
Thank you for your support. The Great Run series have now announced that they have decided not to proceed with the nutrition partnership with Herbalife.
We are pleased that The Great Run series has listened to the running community and would like to thank everyone for their signatures, tweets and shares.