Trump name not magic for vitamin and health company

Washington Post:
The salespeople at Ideal Health were thrilled when they heard Donald Trump would become the new face of their company. The New York real estate mogul, whose reality show “The Apprentice” made him famous, licensed his name to the firm, which was then rebranded as the Trump Network in 2009.

“Oh, my god, people cried when they heard it was him,” says Jenna Knudsen, who worked as a high-ranking saleswoman for Ideal Health at the time. “They cried and looked at each other and said, ‘We’re going to be millionaires!’ ”

Knudsen and her colleagues sold customized vitamins and other health products as part of a controversial business model known as multilevel marketing, in which companies pay salespeople commissions for selling products and recruiting more representatives.

Trump, whose presidential campaign is based in part on his reputation as a businessman, is well known for licensing his name to golf courses, hotels, clothing, wine and many other products. But in this case, he became involved in an industry that consumer advocates had long criticized as promising financial independence to sales recruits but rarely delivering it. Ideal Health had already faced complaints about its practices.

Trump says he was not involved in the company’s operations. But statements by him and other company representatives — as well as a plethora of marketing materials circulating online — often gave the impression of a partnership that was certain to lift thousands of people into prosperity. In fact, within a few years, the company fell on hard times, leaving some salespeople in tough financial straits. It ultimately was acquired by another firm.
There is much more.

Trump mainly gave motivational speeches, but it looks like his aura did not bring much value added to the enterprise.


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