Topic: Promotion Marketing
Who: The Advertising Standards Authority and Red Bull Company Ltd
When: February 2013
Law stated as at: 26 March 2013
Recently, the Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”) has investigated two complaints made against the Red Bull Company Ltd (“Red Bull”) which promoted a prize promotion, on an online magazine stating:
“WIN A VIP TRIP TO WATCH THE BELGIUM GRAND PRIX … To celebrate the up-coming Belgium Grand Prix (31 August – 2 September), we’re giving one winner a pair of tickets to watch the action as well as a flights [sic] and accommodation at the luxurious four-star Beaumont hotel for two nights.”
The complaint was whether the competition was administered properly and whether the description of the prize as “VIP” was misleading because the hotel did not have a spa, the flights were with a budget airline, and the winner was issued with grandstand tickets, rather than VIP tickets. Some other issues faced by the winner related to:
– Timing – too short notice given between being informed that he had won and the event itself;
– Timing:- the winner and guest had to leave the Grand Prix before it finished due to the timing of the return flight!
– Accommodation – the winner had to share a bed with his brother despite requesting two single beds;
– Location – the airport, hotel and event spanned three different countries i.e. the complainant flew into Cologne Airport in Germany
and was then required to travel to the hotel which was located in the Netherlands after which he had to travel to the event in Belgium;
– Luggage – no luggage storage was provided at the event so winner and guest had to carry their luggage around with them during the Grand Prix.
What Red Bull had to say
Red Bull said the promotion was administered according to the T&Cs, which entrants were made aware of and agreed to prior to entry.
They said that the VIP headline referred to the entire package that entrants could win i.e. flights, accommodation at a 4-star hotel and tickets to the event (in the main “Silver” grandstand worth £300 each).
The details of the hotel were stated on the front page of the promotion.
The flights were short haul therefore only one class of travel was available.
As stated in the T&Cs, Red Bull informed the winner of the flight departure details on 28 August 2012 and further details were e-mailed to him on 30 August.
Red Bull offered to cover the winner’s expenses once they became aware of the timing of the return flight.
What the ASA had to say
The ASA upheld the complaints.
Administration of the promotion
Having reviewed both the ad and the T&Cs, the ASA found that the information provided did not make clear the different locations i.e. the event (in Brussels), the airport (Cologne Airport in Germany) and the hotel (in the Netherlands), and that travel to and from them was also not included.
The above was significant information likely to influence consumers’ understanding of the promotion and should therefore have been stated clearly in the promotional material.
The winner had to leave the event early to make the return flight and there were no arrangements made for him or his companion to store their luggage at the event as a result of poor resources to administer the promotion equitably or efficiently.
The promotion was therefore held to be misleading and the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 8.2 (Sales promotions), 8.14 (Administration) and 8.17 and 8.17.1 (Significant conditions for sales promotions).
Description of the prize as “VIP”
Although there was no reference to a spa hotel, in either the promotional material or the T&Cs, the winner was sent an e-mail by the promoter indicating that he had been selected as the winner and that the prize consisted of stay in a 4-star luxurious spa hotel.
Since the headline claimed “WIN A VIP TRIP TO WATCH THE BELGIUM GRAND PRIX …” this implied that what was “VIP” was the entire trip that included the travel, hotel and event tickets.
The term “VIP” in this context was likely to be understood by readers as referring to the entire trip, so that for example the winner would not expect to be flying with a budget airline. In context the winner would also expect the event ticket to include access to the “VIP area”.
The fact that the event was the most prestigious event in the F1 calendar did not on its own provide sufficient grounds for describing the trip as VIP.
Accordingly the ASA held that the description of the promotion as a “VIP” trip was misleading and breached the CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 8.2 (Sales promotions).
Why this matters:
By way of a quick reminder, the relevant Rules of the CAP Code mentioned in this adjudication state:
3.1 “Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.”
8.14 “Promoters must ensure that their promotions are conducted under proper supervision and make adequate resources available to administer them. Promoters, agencies and intermediaries should not
give consumers justifiable grounds for complaint.”
8.17 “Before purchase or, if no purchase is required, before or at the time of entry or application, promoters must communicate all applicable significant conditions”. Significant conditions include:
8.17.1 “How to participate, including significant conditions and costs, and other major factors reasonably likely to influence consumers’ decision or understanding about the promotion”.
8.2 “Promoters must conduct their promotions equitably, promptly and efficiently and be seen to deal fairly and honourably with participants and potential participants. Promoters must avoid causing unnecessary disappointment.”
Promoters must include significant conditions in any promotions, and ensure that they have adequate resources available to administer them and avoid any description of the promotion such as the term “VIP” if this is likely to mislead participants as to the nature of all or part of the prize.
More info at: