Red Bull wanted but not welcome at UVU

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Illustration by Marcus Eisenhour

In the halls of Utah Valley University, students drag themselves between classes. November signals the final month of the fall semester. Grades hang by mere threads as final projects, papers and exams afford little sleep to students still hoping for a passing grade.

Students looking for an edge in their personal energy crisis face limited options on campus. Many are wondering, where is the Red Bull?

Employees of Scoops, the campus ice cream and snack shop, employees repeat one phrase on a daily basis, “UVU is a Pepsi campus.”Students and faculty are divided on the issue of Coke versus Pepsi, but Red Bull is not affiliated with either company.

People frequently ask about various products that aren’t on the shelves of Scoops and requests for Red Bull never stop.

“It comes up a lot,” said Brennan Stewart, Scoops employee and freshman behavioral science major at UVU.

Gustavo Pacchiega manages the operations of Scoops and the UVU Bookstore. He was under the impression Red Bull had been unofficially banned from campus.
“I know it was a cost issue initially,” said Pacchiega, “But I think the Pepsi contract insisted Red Bull was not to be sold on campus.”

The language of the contract with Pepsi is clear and states, “Except as hereinafter specifically permitted otherwise, UVU grants to PEPSI the exclusive right to supply to UVU, for sale or dispensing at the Facilities, and UVU agrees to purchase exclusively from PEPSI, soft drink products and other beverage requirements.”
A contract for brand exclusivity may seem ridiculous, but UVU is compensated handsomely.

“The university receives nearly $70,000 in scholarship and funding payments plus rebates on all products sold,” said Jacob Atkin, UVU Associate Vice President for Finance.

Nowhere in the contract is Red Bull specifically cited. The relationship between Pepsi and UVU is no different than that of Pepsi and a restaurant.

“UVU and Pepsi signed a contract which includes a non-compete clause. Pepsi affords benefits to the university for product exclusivity,” said Alex Metzger, of Pepsi, Co.

Coca-Cola products are, however, available on campus.

“UVU cleared it with Pepsi for Coke to be sold on campus,” said Pacchiega. “We are given a few rows in our coolers to sell whatever we want. The school chose to stock Coke products.”

“In general, I would say that students are pleased with Pepsi,” said Atkin.

If students and employees would prefer to see change, two options exist. Either wait until the Pepsi contract expires, July 30, 2019 or state your opinion.

“I feel like student voice has a lot of influence on campus and I’m surprised we still don’t carry Red Bull,” said Stewart. “I understand licensing is a big deal, but we are able to make a lot of things happen as a university. Why not this?”

“If there is something [students] want, let someone know. We stock fresh fruit now because of student opinion,” said Ila Myer, Scoops employee.

Students will not see Monster on campus either. Monster is not owned by Coca-Cola but there is a strategic partnership between the two companies. Coca-Cola transferred all of its energy products to Monster, and Monster transferred all of its soda products to Coca-Cola. Both companies purchased major stock in the other company.

The student energy crisis is not a lost cause. Currently, UVU stocks Rockstar, which is bottled by Pepsi, and Mountain Dew Kickstart beverages.

In the past, Red Bull has organized events on campus twice a year. If the tradition continues, those wanting Red Bull between classes will have to smuggle it in.

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