Wicked Campers, the Australian campervan company that decks its vehicles with lewd, sexist and misogynistic slogans and drug references is finding the road increasingly rocky on both sides of the Tasman.
In April, Wicked Campers ran into heavy opposition in New Zealand, with three of its most offensive vehicles banned from New Zealand’s roads under threat of huge fines, following a landmark ruling. See: Banned! Wicked vehicles face massive fines in NZ
Now, opposition to Wicked Campers is ramping up seriously in Australia.
The Queensland Government said last week it plans to change laws so that commercial vehicles which do not comply with decisions made by Australia’s Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) can be deregistered.
Wicked Campers has repeatedly fallen foul of the ASB after public complaints – but as the ASB is entirely toothless and cannot impose penalties, Wicked Campers doesn’t take much notice.
New Zealand’s Classification Office, the body that has clashed with Wicked Campers across the Tasman, is a different beast entirely. Breaching its rulings can bring heavy fines or jail terms.
Now Australia appears finally to be getting tough as well.
ASB chief executive Fiona Jolly told the ABC’s Triple J Hack that Wicked was “the one and only non-compliant advertiser in Australia”. She said that over the past four years there had been 74 complaints about Wicked vans, of which 49 had been upheld – meaning they were found to breach community standards.
Jolly said the number of complaints “far exceeded” that of any other advertiser.
In one of its few responses to the ASB, Wicked said: “In a pluralist society like ours, everyone is free to express their own views – some of which not everyone agrees with. We believe all our artwork and philosophical messages are not contrary prevailing community standards …”
The Tasmanian Government is reportedly considering new laws to ban Wicked campervans and is prepared to pass legislation if the company tries to register its campervans in Tasmania.
During summer months, which is the Queensland tourist off-peak season, the company reportedly sends vehicles to Tasmania.
Photos of vehicles shown in New Zealand media recently include one van with a picture of Snow White smoking crack, and others bearing sexual references, including a van adorned with a cartoon of a donkey and a rooster and the slogan “This cock loves ass.”
Complaints about the slogans surfaced in Australia last year before the ASB. Two slogans concerned pedophilia and oral sex, namely: “70% of Preists [sic] who’ve tried camels prefer young boys…” and “a blow job is a great last minute gift”. Both drew public complaints to the ASB, which the ASB upheld. A complaint about a third slogan, “It makes my heart race when you sit on my face”, was dismissed. See: Rude campervan bad boys get knuckles rapped again
Written by Peter Needham