Trope Workshop:Multi-Level Marketer

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A stock character, especially in parody, the Multi-Level Marketer insists that they are an Independent Business Owner and have an exciting business proposal, but won't explain what it is... but they are just as insistent that it's not a Pyramid Scheme and that there is no selling involved. Invariably, the loudmouth in the cheap suit insists that you too can join the Fortune 500 and Get Rich Quick.

Just as inevitably, they turn out to be peddling Amway® – or any of a long list of other cookie-cutter schemes which operate under the same or similar business model. Buy the product, drone on Ad Nauseam to your friends to not only buy the product but resell it to others, and eventually you can be a Direct Distributor at the top of what they insist is not a pyramid. And that rival soap company? To the most devout followers of the Amway® cult, Procter & Gamble™ must be linked directly to Satan based on this logo, a mockery of Revelations 12:1 ("And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of 12 stars.") since it has 13 stars instead of 12.

They might even invite you to a party, but that gathering will turn out to be yet another sales pitch. The "Tupperware® party" was the original, but this model has been extended to other lines and brands... including a few marketing sex toys or lingerie. Find the latest hot multi-level marketing scheme, invoke a bit of Artistic License Economics and Step Three: Profit. Spend the rest of your days living the American Dream the Amway® way, driving around suburbia in a Mary Kay®-style pink Cadillac®.

Results Not Typical as a few people at the top of the "multi-level marketing" pyramid will prosper, but there are limited returns for most of the others. If they're peddling cosmetics, why not add a bit of Animal Testing controversy for good measure on the presumption that Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped?

There are too many offerings of varying quality, format and style to ever come close to listing or classifying them all, but Amway® (soap and household goods), Avon® (cosmetics), Mary Kay® (cosmetics), Matol® (meal replacement) and Tupperware® (food storage containers) – or a Bland-Name Product as an ersatz of any of these – may be among the more common products being hyped by the character in this trope.

Examples of Multi-Level Marketer include:

Comic Books

  • Larry Hama's run on the G.I. Joe comic book, in one memorable twist, reveals the Cobra Commander as a used car salesman driven to madness by personal loss and misfortune, who built his terrorist army through propaganda and the proceeds from Amway-style pyramid schemes.

Film

  • Top Secret, a sequel to the Airplane! parodies, has the main character's fiancée and love interest working in some backward and distant Third World jungle, selling Supperware™ (an ersatz of Tupperware®) to the primitive natives.

Live-Action TV

  • Almost Live, a sketch comedy series which originated at Seattle's KING-TV, once did a bit where a bad-tempered bully of a boss is promoted and replaced (literally) by a box of snakes. The box then gets promoted and replaced with the greatest horror of all: a guy who sells Amway®.

Newspaper Comics

  • Bloom County and the "Mary Kay Commandos". The focus is on the use of animal testing before cosmetics can be marketed to humans, and not on the marketing structure per se, but Mary Kay (and its rival, Avon) are well-known examples of multi-level marketing structures.

Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends

Web Comics

Web Original

Other Media