What is the relationship between NAMI CA and 51Fifty Energy Drink?


  •  Message from Eve Hinson to NAMI CA on Facebook 6/7/2015


    I’m advocating to break the stigma of having a mental illness. In May I started #TheReal5150 campaign prompted by the stigma-promoting brand, 51 Fifty Energy Drink.

    In 2010, I triggered with PTSD and Psychogenic Nonepileptic Seizures. I was challenged by severe cognitive impairment, daily seizures, chronic pain, and needed help with mobility and basic self-care. After five years, I’m in a better state of recovery, but every single day I battle the stigma of having a mental illness.

    This April, I spotted a “51 Fifty Energy Drink” delivery van in my neighborhood and felt deeply disrespected and mocked. The slogan “Live the Madness” added greater insult.

    This is a California company that simply does not understand how it’s promoting stigma to the one in four people who are challenged with a brain illness. Furthermore, they support autism awareness and associate the recognized icon of puzzle pieces with their brand name right on the can. While the effort to help children with autism is noble, it is detracted by associating the image with the slang definition to California’s police code 5150.

    The 51 Fifty Energy Drink promotes its consumers as risk-takers and anyone who dares to chase their dreams despite naysayers. The founder, Carlos Vieria, named the company after being labeled “crazy” by friends by choosing high-risk behaviors in race car driving. The name of this product is akin to calling it “Retarded: Get Your Stupid On,” or “Catch Cancer: Live Like There’s No Tomorrow.”

    Having a mental illness is not a choice. Being a badass is a choice.

    I’ve continued my campaign in asking the company to do better with their brand and marketing, and to stop promoting mental illness stigma by launching a petition on Change.org (https://www.change.org/p/51-fifty-energy-drink-51-fifty-energy-drink-stop-promoting-mental-illness-stigma) and at Buycott.com (http://www.buycott.com/campaign/1205/boycott-51fifty-energy-drink-promotes-mental-illness-stigma). The campaigns were created this weekend. Already the campaign on Buycott.com has 57 supporters.

    51 Fifty Energy Drink is carried by all California Fastrip locations (including Fresno and Central Valley), Fresh and Easy stores, and is growing their reach into the Arizona market.

    I think my campaign could be an important story that puts a voice to how this company promoting mental illness stigma affects people in the community. Please help me in gaining support of these campaigns to help break the stigma of a brain illness.


    Eve Hinson


  • July 2, 2015
    NAMI California

    Hi Eve, We have had many meetings with the owners of the brand and are working with on educating them on the stigma surrounding SMI. We are hoping to turn their message into a positive one using their brand to promote awareness and providing information about services as a part of their marketing efforts. It will be a long road, but we are moving the message forward and using this as an opportunity to work with those who are not aware of how their message triggers others. They are looking to change their brand in particular the tag line and working with us on how best to move forward. Thank you for your advocacy. We hope to continue working with them and see a change in their marketing and message.

    Warmly, NAMI CA


From: Eve Hinson to Marcel at NAMI CA
Sent: Wednesday, February 10, 2016 9:40 AM
To: Marcel Harris
Hi Marcel,

Good morning. I’m wondering if you could be of help. I’m struggling strongly with NAMI CA’s response to working with a company like 51Fifty Energy Drink after so many peers have complained about it’s stigmatized name and slogan. I’m also concerned because this company is affiliating themselves with the local NAMI Chapters on The Carlos Vieira Foundation page — and there is strong concern about the financial reporting.

You can see where we’ve been advocating and sharing the story here: https://quirkybirdwords.com/category/thereal5150/ and https://iamanaddictandaliar.wordpress.com/. Here’s a post with NAMI CAs response: https://quirkybirdwords.com/2016/02/09/hey-carlos-thereal5150-are-watching/ .

The page: https://www.facebook.com/thereal5150

The boycott: https://buycott.com/campaign/1205/boycott-51fifty-energy-drink-promotes-mental-illness-stigma

The Change.org Petition: https://www.change.org/p/51-fifty-energy-drink-51-fifty-energy-drink-stop-promoting-mental-illness-stigma

This campaign received national news coverage last year.

Does NAMI CA have a relationship with this organization and company?


Eve Hinson



From Marcel Harris, NAMI CA | Februrary 11, 2016

Hello Eve,

So I spoke to Steven our Deputy Director and Kristin our Communications Coordinator. Below is Steven’s response.

We don’t have any association with 51Fifty as an organization. You can still pursue your advocacy, but this isn’t a priority for us for at the moment as an organization.

Apparently the foundation has liked our page and we (NAMI CA) have not liked any of their pages. There is no relationship between us and the foundation or 51Fifty energy drinks.

I hope that helps clear up any confusion and thank you for bringing this to our attention.


Marcel Harris

Statewide Organizer


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