"As students at the University of Sydney prepared for their end-of-year exams
in late 2023, a trio in brightly coloured jumpsuits pulled up to the campus in
a van, armed with tiny bottles labelled “Ryde wellbeing shots”.
They approached students as they studied on the campus lawns, asking them to
share their strategies to cope with exam stress and filming their responses for
The students gave sensible answers – healthy diet, exercise, meditation, taking
breaks between periods of study. The “Ryde Response Team” handed out bottles of
Ryde, which contains ingredients such as taurine, lemon balm and ginseng
extract, telling the students that one 60ml shot could “revive” them and give
“It’s a really sweet flavour, tastes healthy,” one student said, while another
remarked that “it’s like a lolly”.
“You’re gonna do great,” a member of the Ryde team told a student after they
downed a shot.
The Ryde website says the product, available in Australia and Canada, is made
“by a team of smart people” to “make wellbeing easy”. The brand is owned by the
Water Street Collective, “a group of nonconformists in a corporate world”, the
company’s LinkedIn page says.
What was not revealed to students, and is not on the Ryde product label, is
that the Water Street Collective is a wholly owned subsidiary of British
The Ryde website only once mentions British American Tobacco, and only as BAT.
A University of Sydney spokesperson told Guardian Australia
was unaware of the Ryde visit or the TikTok video, but that the University of
Sydney Union (USU) had been approached by a marketing agency to provide
students with free samples.
She said the USU had no idea the brand was owned by a tobacco company, nor did
the USU give permission for the brand to film on campus.
“The USU is now working with the agency to have the university’s brand removed
from any marketing content,” she said, and there would be no more interactions
with the brand in future.
On Friday the videos were “unavailable” on TikTok.
Ryde samples have also been given out recently at Oz Comic-Con and its
advertisements have appeared at train stations and on buses in Sydney."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics