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  • Jamie Clumpas

VUWSA Defends Promoting Pills


VUWSA has defended promoting high-dose caffeine pill “Nō Dōz” in the face of online backlash. The posts on Facebook and Instagram, which said the pills were to keep students ‘wide awake for a hard night’s study,’ were not declared as paid promotion. 

The posts drew numerous critical comments, with one saying ‘This seems reckless and borderline irresponsible to promote.’

A Nō Dōz pill contains 200mg of caffeine, dwarfing the 80mg in a 250ml can of redbull. However much more common on NZ shelves is Nō Dōz plus, which, despite the name, only contains 100mg.

400mg is considered the maximum healthy dose of caffeine - more can cause anxiety, insomnia, loss of appetite and other symptoms. While caffeine pills are theoretically no riskier than other forms of caffeine, its much easier to slam back 3-5 pills in one go than 6 cans.

VUWSA president Marcail Parkinson explained that the ad is part of a very large advertising deal with Auckland-based Wilson Consumer Products to promote a variety of their products, saying “VUWSA doesn’t specify which products they are allowed to advertise. They send us through a set number of ads per year and we put them out.”

She said modifying the agreement to have more control on future ads could be possible, but that the contract is essential in funding services; ‘we are the most underfunded student association in the country, advertising is how the community pantry runs, how Salient runs, and the only way we can continue to put on O-week.’ She continued ‘we’ve been putting pressure on the university to fund us so we don’t have to rely on advertising, but they don’t have the appetite for it.’

Parkinson confirmed the omission of sponsorship marking was an “oversight.” The Facebook post has now been edited to include “#ad.” The instagram post, as well as other sponsored posts on the VUWSA facebook page have not been updated as of writing.


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