By Terin Izil, copywriter at Draftfcb Chicago
Since July 20th, I have been on the 5RingDiet: eating, drinking, wearing, and using only products that have the Olympic Rings on their packaging. That means showering in Dasani, getting my daily serving of fruits and veggies from McDonald’s, and sleeping on a bed of Charmin toilet paper. And I’ve been blogging and tweeting about it the whole time. It’s not the latest fad diet. I created it to raise money for Camp Promise-West, a camp for people of all ages with neuromuscular disorders that I started in 2009. And since the 5RingDiet started, Camp Promise-West has received $7,146 in donations.
Over the last 22 days, I’ve become intimately acquainted with the brands that wear that Olympic badge of honor. I’ve spent nearly every morning with Chobani yogurt. Spent every night on Charmin. And I’ve used Always for everything from holding my “bed” together to a failed attempt at waxing my eyebrows to a homemade bra (before I finally found a 5RingDiet Adidas swimsuit in London).
I’ve always believed brands have personalities that develop beyond what we as advertisers create. And suddenly going from copywriter to extreme consumer—one who’s shut out every brand I’m loyal to in exchange for handful of brands selected by forces beyond my control—I’ve had a chance to interact with brands from the other side of the advertising curtain.
When I started, some brands were strangers. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 10, so my interaction with McDonald’s has been pretty limited over the last couple of decades. But suddenly they were my only source of vegetables and solid fruits (Minute Maid does have 5RingDiet juices) and I’ve found myself dining under the Golden Arches nearly daily. That’s actually where I’m writing this post.
And somewhere in the loneliness of being the only person at a party unable to drink (if anyone spots that 5RingDiet Budweiser, PLEASE let me know) or wandering the aisles of the grocery store past shelves and shelves of products now dead to me, the few brands I am able to use—even the ones that were so foreign to me last month—have grown to feel like old friends.
And social media has taken this interaction to a whole new level. Conversing with brands shouldn’t be a new concept for me. I TWEET ON BEHALF OF BRANDS FOR A LIVING. But in my isolating 5RingDiet universe, a reply from Chobani to a post about my breakfast is a BIG deal. And after several of these exchanges, my friendship with Chobani moved from the digital world to the physical one when theysent me a care package full of 5RingDiet apparel to help me power through the last days. The package contained the first pants and sweatshirt in 19 days and about 5 other shirts to add to my limited rotation of clothing. It was the best care package I’d gotten since Halloween of my first year of college. And it made me feel like Chobani wasn’t just following my Twitter feed, they were following my story.
On Sunday, when the Olympic flame is extinguished, the 5RingDiet ends as well. I’ll say goodbye to some of the brand friends I’ve relied on for nearly the past month. And some will earn a permanent place in my life. But with just $7,854 to reach Camp Promise’s $25,000 goal, there’s still a big place reserved in my heart for those—brands or otherwise—who donate.
Terin's blog can be found (and donations can be made) at5RingDiet.com and you can follower her on Twitter@5RingDiet.