A UK man won a Red Bull ‘VIP trip’ to the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix, only to travel there by budget airline, stay in a spa hotel without a spa, share a bed with his brother and leave the race early.
The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) was unimpressed, ruling against Red Bull on grounds of misleading advertising – of its prize promotion in an online magazine, and said the firm “must include significant conditions in future promotions, and ensure that they have adequate resources available to administer them”.
The headline claim ‘WIN A VIP TRIP TO WATCH THE BELGIUM GRAND PRIX’ implied the whole event was VIP, the ASA said, and that readers “would not expect…flights to be with a budget airline”.
“Given that the Grand Prix issued tickets that included admission to a VIP area, readers would [also] expect the winning tickets to include this,” the ASA added.
Forced to share bed with brother
The man objected to other issues relating to the promotion, claiming that he had to share a bed with his brother – despite requesting two single beds – and the fact that the airport, hotel and event spanned three different countries, while they also had to leave the Grand Prix early.
And although the advert did not refer to a spa hotel, a later email from the promoter to the man informing him he was a winner described it as such.
Responding to the ASA, Red Bull said the promotion was administered in agreement with its terms and conditions.
Instead, Red Bull claims the VIP headline (in the ASA’s words) “referred to the entire package that entrants could win, which included tickets to the event, flights and accommodation at a 4-star hotel [in Holland]”.
'Silver tickets were not standard tickets': Red Bull
The ‘silver’ Grand Prix tickets (which the winner also complained about) were not standard tickets, the brand added, while the inbound flight (to Cologne Airport) was short-haul with only one class of travel available.
Red Bull said the winner was told prior to travelling that he and his brother would have to organize their own travel between Germany and Belgium, and said it had offered to cover their expenses after learning they would have to leave the Grand Prix early.
But the ASA said Red Bull’s advert for the competition did not make it clear that, while the Grand Prix was in Brussels, the hotel was in Holland, or that winners would have to organize their own travel aside from flights.