Apple once had a close relationship with Belle Gibson, a now-disgraced fitness and health blogger who claimed to have cured her cancer with lifestyle and other wellness improvements. A new report from Australian news site The Age dives deeper into the connections between Apple and Gibson, as seen with the marketing for her ‘The Whole Pantry’ app in the above screenshot.
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Apple’s relationship with Gibson was set to be a huge marketing campaign for the company, but the news of her con broke on the eve of the Apple Watch release in 2015. Gibson’s app, The Whole Pantry, was set to be one of the prominent apps in Apple Watch advertising, alongside the likes of Nike and Pinterest.
A week after the news of Ms Gibson’s con broke – and it was clear she had become a liability – a flurry of panicked correspondence was exchanged between Apple’s Australian offices and its US headquarters in California.
The scandal broke on the eve of Apple’s smart watch launch in 2015, which was to have featured The Whole Pantry as one of its central apps. Ms Gibson had been working with Apple in secret on the smart watch version of her app.
Apple hadn’t clearly vetted Gibson’s claims about how health and wellness improvements had changed her life. The issues ran deeper than that, though. There were several clear warning signs about Gibson’s motive that Apple seemingly paid no attention to – failing to follow through with charitable promises, deleting social posts, and more:
When The Age exposed Gibson for failing to hand over thousands of dollars promised to charity and deleting social media posts questioning her miracle cancer-recovery story, one message from an Apple staffer who worked intimately with Gibson described the news coverage as “unfortunate”.
When the The Australian published explosive comments from Gibson herself, in which she conceded it was possible she had been misdiagnosed, staff at Apple appeared unperturbed.
One of the company’s top public relations managers in Australia, Jesse James, emailed Gibson the same morning that the article appeared on the front page of The Australian to approve smart watch promotional material for Ms Gibson’s app, The Whole Pantry.
The full report from The Age is definitely worth a read and is more of a caution to do proper vetting more than anything. Check it out here.