The Advertising Standards Authority heard how the prize, hailed as a trip of a lifetime, turned out be a shambles.
Not only did the trip span three countries – the flight out landed in Germany, the hotel was in Holland, the grand prix in Belgium – all flights were by a budget airline and the prize winner only had two days’ notice of all the arrangements.
He also had to share a bed with his brother – despite requesting a twin room – and there was not VIP access at the event. Meanwhile they both had to haul their suitcases to the race, which they then had to leave early due to the timing of the return flight.
In response to the ASA’s investigation, Red Bull claimed most of the details were contained in the small print, but this was simply not the case.
The watchdog also questioned the use of the phrase “VIP”, which in the context of the ad, was likely to be understood by readers as exclusive, and specifically non-standard, and that they would not expect, unless otherwise stated in the promotion, for the flights to be with a budget airline. They would also expect access to the event’s VIP area.
Banning the promotion as misleading, the ASA warned Red Bull to make sure it had adequate resources available to administer future promotions. It also told the company not to describe a promotion as “VIP” if it was likely to mislead participants as to the nature of all or part of the prize.
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