Red Bull's VIP trip: budget airline, hotel in the wrong country, and you're not a VIP

The 4-star spa hotel did not have a spa and the winner had to share a bed with his brother

It was supposed to have been the VIP trip of a lifetime to the Belgium Grand Prix. But Red Bull has been censured after sending competition winners on a budget haul dash across three countries, making them share a bed and then sending them home early after they were barred from entering the race's VIP enclosure.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has criticised Red Bull for misleading the winner of a competition which stated: "Win a VIP trip to watch the Belgium Grand Prix."

The winner complained to the watchdog after a nightmare 48-hour round trip which offered little in the way of VIP frills. Instead of an upgraded flight to Brussels, the winner and his guest were told to take a budget flight to Cologne airport in Germany and then make their own way to a hotel in the Netherlands.

Red Bull did "not make clear that, other than the flights, winners would have to organise their own travel", the ASA reported.

The complainant had received an email indicating that "the prize consisted of stay in a 4-star luxurious spa hotel". But not only was the hotel not even in the country in which the race was taking place, it did not boast any kind of spa and the winner and his brother were forced to share a bed in a double room, instead of being allocated a twin.

The winners had to drag their luggage from Holland to the Formula 1 race-track in Belgium because "no arrangements were made for him or his companion to store their luggage at the event".

When they got to the circuit they were not allowed to use any VIP facilities. The pair were given ordinary grandstand tickets along with thousands of other fans. To rub salt into the wound, the pair had to leave the race early in order to catch their return flight – this time from Brussels.

The watchdog upheld the winner's complaint that he "had to share a bed with his brother despite requesting two single beds, the general organisation in which the airport, hotel and event spanned three different countries, that their suitcases had to be taken to the event and that they had to leave the event early due to the timing of the return flight".

Red Bull argued that the VIP description was accurate since the Grand Prix was "one of the most prestigious races on the F1 calendar". They said the advert did not claim that event tickets were VIP and that the VIP headline referred to "the entire package that entrants could win, which included tickets to the event, flights and accommodation at a 4-star hotel". Red Bull offered the winner compensation for having to leave the event early.

But the ASA said the term "VIP" would most likely be understood by readers as "exclusive" treatment, and specifically "non-standard", so they would not reasonably expect budget airline flights. "Given that the Grand Prix issued tickets that included admission to a VIP area, readers would expect the winning tickets to include this," the body also found.

Red Bull "did not make clear that, while the event was in Brussels, the winner would have to fly into Cologne airport in Germany and then travel to the hotel in the Netherlands, nor did it make clear that, other than the flights, winners would have to organise their own travel".

The watchdog found that the promoter "had not made available adequate resources to administer the promotion equitably or efficiently" and concluded that the "VIP trip" promotion was misleading and breached the ASA Code.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003