Ever heard of Dove? Vaseline? Ben & Jerry’s?
They’re owned by one of the biggest guys – Unilever.
Unilever is a huge corporate conglomerate with billions of dollars and hundreds of company holdings worldwide. Last month they nearly added Disrupt Your Diet to that list, but not OUR Disrupt Your Diet – an alternative food campaign launched under the Unilever owned and operated “non-profit” website Collectively.org. THEIR "Disrupt Your Diet" featured things like cricket flour and worm tacos and they initiated a hashtag contest as the launch to their campaign. They used #disruptyourdiet.
Imagine my surprise when I was looking through #disruptyourdiet to find unusual food photos that I was pretty sure wasn’t you guys. One click and I was taken to Colletively.org and right there in black and white (yes, my same color scheme) I saw some foreign Disrupt Your Diet that I had never seen before.
W. T. F.
I came up with the idea for Disrupt Your Diet after being in the MGM Grand in June of 2014 - the same time Shakeology was having an annual conference. I couldn't even get in an elevator without hearing about how Shakeology was changing someone's life. I thought "Enough with these predatory MLM shake companies! I wonder what it would be like to start an enormous, contagious and exciting movement for the TRUTH behind diet, weight loss and fitness?"
I thought for a while about what I would call such a movement. I follow tech startups pretty closely and thought about the concept of disruption- about how the little man is figuring out ways to undermine the Big Guy and the new term generally used in these situations is "disrupt.” It clicked almost immediately "Disrupt Your Diet"! It works as a movement name AND as a personal motto - stop dieting, be better than that, and at the same time undermine the diet industry.
Of course, as a sensible business person, I would not just decide on a business name without doing my due diligence to make sure it didn't already belong to someone. I googled it, I checked the url availability and Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. All were wide open. I was the first person EVER to devise the phrase "Disrupt Your Diet"! That was a cool feeling - to be purely creative. The SEO was WIDE open- and so I jumped on it.
Disrupt Your Diet was launched by the end of June 2014 and we hit the ground running.
Fast forward to last month:
Disrupt Your Diet was beginning to make history- we had hit 5,000 followers organically, I was getting ready to release Body Positive Fitness Alliance and announce it to you all.... things could not have been going any better.
BUT … on March 17th when I clicked on #disruptyourdiet from Instagram and saw THEIR photos, THEIR tweets and THEIR website, my heart sank. Getting something stolen from you that you've worked so hard to build really hurts.
I started to have severe anxiety and get really scared.
1. "What if people think this is me?"
2. "What if someone googles 'Disrupt Your Diet' and is brought to this page which states certain things that don't resemble anything I stand for?"
3. "What if Body Positive Fitness Alliance launching on Sunday is a total flop because people google 'Disrupt Your Diet' and don't find me because of these guys?" (they had climbed to the #2 position on Google for days at a time throughout this entire ordeal).
4. "HOLY SHIT- one of their authors has posted a FAT SHAMING TWEET right underneath her announcement of their #disruptyourdiet launch.” - this one made me so scared for people who might find this looking for our good information- what a terrible experience that could've been for someone!
I immediately went to work.
The first thing I did was call up all of my close friends, ask them to #disruptyourdiet like crazy. The next thing I did was go on Disrupt Your Diet's Facebook page and announce that I was holding a hashtag contest of my own and wanted to see how you guys were being a #partofthesolution in the diet and fitness industry.
I would've never done this if it weren't for the immediate need to completely saturate social media with MY Disrupt Your Diet in order to lead people who were looking for ME to ME.
I even hired an SEO person – diverting money that was intended for Body Positive Fitness Alliance and Surf City Fit Club, Inc. to make sure that no avenue of opportunity was missed.
And guess what?
Through hard work and all of your efforts --- an amazing thing happened. In just a day or two, we went from being outnumbered by fake "Disrupt Your Diet" campaigners to having over 300 posts on IG and twitter #disruptyourdiet pointing to OUR cause and OUR brand!!
You guys were on fire, showing us really cool efforts you're making in your communities, online and in your personal lives to help make the fitness and diet industry a better, more positive place.
Not only were we winning in quantity, but the quality of these posts were incredible! I was so moved by everyone's stories and the huge springboard for the #partofthesolution hashtag as well! This warms my heart SO much and I have never felt more successful in the work I've done to spread the truth and science behind diet and fitness.
To this very moment, I am very confused as to why a huge blog company wouldn't have simply googled the term "Disrupt Your Diet" and noticed that I was using the term – that I'm out here, that it was mine, and that I was working hard to establish this brand! It's a brand that is helping people be better every single day and I have a voice! I wonder how they didn't see that?
After all, Collectively.org is not the small non-profit they claim to be. Their CEO is the VP of Global Marketing Projects for Unilever.
Surely they have the common sense to research before deciding on a name for their campaign, right?
Or maybe they did research. And maybe they discovered us but thought that their actions would go unnoticed - that the fact that they were piggybacking on my brand name to help them get their campaign off the ground would go undetected?
Or maybe, worst of all, they saw my blog post go viral three weeks before, loved my clever and catchy name, and decided they'd just use it as their own hoping that I wouldn’t have any power of recourse (I’m the little guy, after all.)
But wait, it gets better.
What they overlooked is that I know one of the best intellectual property attorneys in the world. And he was willing to help me.
(I may be the little guy, but I know some pretty big people.)
Enter the Cease and Desist.
The very next thing I did after initiating all of you, was let them know that I know who they are and what they’re doing and demanded that they stop stealing my trademarked brand and likeness and pull down everything related to Disrupt Your Diet and all use of #disruptyourdiet from their campaign, and REMOVE the fat shaming tweet.
Please GOD remove that fat shaming tweet!
They were slowly climbing up the Google search results at that point. Spot number 2 directly under my Disrupt Your Diet page. My nerves were shot, I was hardly sleeping, my sole focus was stopping this from happening.
They came back to us, denied responsibility for the infringement on my brand, denied responsibility for the horrific tweet OR the person who tweeted it even though just three tweets above it claimed that SHE started DISRUPT YOUR DIET via Collectively.org!
It might have been the worst week of my life. I just wanted this to be over.
Thanks to the support of the REAL Disrupt Your Diet community(you!), and our SEO expert, they must have known they were obviously not going to win this fight via social media because a week later, something crazy happened.
They did it. They removed everything!
They even deleted the fat shaming tweet!
We won because of ALL OF YOU! You showed the BIG MAN what a little woman can do! What we all can do if we stand together! Can you believe it?
This has been a crazy ridiculous month for our movement. First, my response to a big media company goes viral. Next, a big media company attempts to stomp all over me. And in both of these situations-
I CAME OUT ON TOP.
WE CAME OUT ON TOP!
I plan to start sleeping a little better now.
So where do things stand? I am out real money – money that was wasted because of the blatant indifference of this “non-profit”. We asked them to compensate us for the time, efforts and money spent – less even than the “pocket change” of a huge corporation like Unilever. Pennies!
They might as well have laughed at us.
Apparently because they did the right thing and removed their campaign SEVEN DAYS after we asked them to (and their search results appeared on Google for much longer than that under "Disrupt Your Diet" and pointed to their home page), they felt it unnecessary to take financial responsibility for forcing my hand in the marketing efforts made to avoid confusing my audience.
My IP attorney tells me to try to work something out with them – I listen, and they flip me off!
It just makes wonder how Unilever would feel if WE did not respect THEIR rights in THEIR brands?
Just a few short months ago Unilever was in the news because of their “Just Mayo” lawsuit as the demonizing corporation who sued a small startup over using the term “MAYO” for a vegan product. A term they do not even own! They had to pull the ludicrous suit over the backlash. If they can sue a company over the definition of a word, SURELY our claim is not unjustified.
For some reason I thought they would act reasonably, acknowledge their mistake. Maybe even be the good guy for a change!
Let me be clear. I was NEVER looking for a windfall. That’s not me – all I ever wanted was for them to just “do the right thing” and reimburse me for my losses as a result of their careless (or callous) disregard of my rights.
Is that too much to ask?
It is to Unilever.
But I am not defeated. We still triumphed. We are still winners. And this fight is NOT over.
Throughout this catastrophic ordeal we went nuts on our social media and SEO efforts in order to make sure people who were looking for us could find us. We spent thousands of dollars and man hours working behind the scenes to make sure that these people who so cavalierly trampled our rights could not deceive our audience.
To help us recoup some of the costs from this ordeal, we launched a few clever and cute tee shirts. If you like them or know of someone who might, we'd so appreciate the generosity as we work to get back to regular life.
In a perfect world, the big guys might one day get a lesson in what it means to stomp on the little guys.
In the meantime, it feels damn good to know that #teamdyd and all of you who are working to be a #partofthesolution are on the same team as me. I value every single one of you and your support.
It is not my style to tell any of you what to do... but I can tell you what we won't be doing any more – we won’t be buying Hellman's or Best Foods products anymore, we won't be buying Dove products anymore, and sadly, we won't be buying Ben & Jerry's ice cream anymore.
These guys have no regard for us, so I refuse to add to their profit margins.
Let's keep moving forward.