The so-called "Swisse Color Run" is today. Some 7,000 Cairns residents have registered to run 5km in the Cairns CBD while people throw coloured corn starch at them. "Fun and healthy", say the organisers. And a big fund raiser for local charities.
There are no local organisers of the event. They are a "crew" going from town to town across Australia, like a carnival of gypsies. Inherent in the word "gypsy" is the word "gyp". Is Cairns about to get defrauded by these blow-ins?
The Color Run is a commercial enterprise. While Cairns Council Staff told us yesterday that the organisers represented themselves to Cairns nonRegional Council staff as a "charitable corporation", they are NOT. Color Run Pty
Ltd (ACN159331496) was registered in Australia less than a year ago, and the Color Run websites and marketing events do not have ANY disclosures on them. Color Run looks to be at least partially owned by X-Tri Australia Pty. Ltd., a for-profit NSW company.
And of course, no one at Cairns Council bothered to do even a cursory check on this event. Where is the due diligence in committing time and ratepayer money to an event that shuts down the Esplanade? An event that is raising serious questions about where all the money is going.
Cairns Council has committed to tens of thousands of dollars in support to this event, with Council staff working overtime, and city facilities handed over. Roads closed, requiring police overtime. However the charity advertised to benefit, the FNQ Hospital Foundation, is likely to see $15,000 or less based on this company's record in other cities. Council would have saved money by giving the FNQ Hospital Foundation the $15K directly! The Color Run claims that their Charity Partner is "The Celebrate Life Foundation", founded by Swisse (the vitamin company). But
the Celebrate Life Foundation (which sounds like it should be a charity) is also a for-profit company, with unknown owners.
Complaints are starting to pile up across Australia, and indeed in America, where the program was first started. The US has much stricter reporting for charitable contributions, and The Charity Navigator can confirm NO money going to any charity from the Color Run there!
One newspaper called it "the best legal business scam since The Pet Rock"
With over 250,000 participating in the Australian Color Run so far, over $12 million is unaccounted for. And questions have started to mount about the event in Australia, as the "charity" component (used to secure free venues, free council services, volunteers to stage the event, free publicity and other suckers) seems to be virtually non-existent.
Is Swisse aware of what's going on? Or are they financing this "marketing device" and using the charitable component as a front?
And did Cairns Council get duped into spending ratepayer money to support this wholly commercial event?
Want to donate $50 to the FNQ Hospital Foundation? Write them a cheque. Want to run and stay healthy? Why pay Color Run $50 to do it?
COLOR RUN COMPLAINTS MOUNT UP