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Wicked Campers is an Australian camper van rental company based in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Founded in 2000 by John Webb, the company also has outlets in other parts of Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, North America, South Africa and South America.
Wicked Campers market their product towards younger drivers and backpackers. Each van features a spray painted design, often featuring pop culture references and slogans, which are often rude and offensive.
Wicked Campers have continually attracted media attention in Australia and New Zealand for their use of offensive slogans on their painted vans. Between 2008 and 2012 the Australian Advertising Standards Board upheld numerous complaints about offensive slogans or other advertising.
In 2010, according to the Daily Telegraph, the Queensland government released a report saying 90% of Wicked vans in the state were unroadworthy. Wicked took the vans off the road but claimed that the vans were safe. It appears, however, that the number of vans that were taken off the road is a point of contention.
In 2011, various media sources reported that Wicked Campers received criticism from animal rights activists for placing stickers inside their Australian vans with the text "Kangaroos, run the fuckers down." Wicked stated the stickers were to promote road safety and prevent vehicular rollovers.
In November 2011 it was reported that the company trading as Wicked Campers had paid fines of $26,400 for 'misleading advertising' regarding camper van hire fees. According to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission, the company had 'failed to specify the single total price payable for the campervans and failed to adequately disclose certain mandatory fees and charges'.
In July 2014 a petition opposing their allegedly sexist and misogynist slogans attracted over 100,000 signatures and protests in the Australian Senate. After pressure through the media, Wicked issued an apology and committed to removing the offensive slogans. As of April 2016, they have not done so.
State government responses
In December 2016, Victorian Minister for Women, Fiona Richardson said, "If we can do something to rid our roads of Wicked Campers, take down advertising that blurs the line between marketing and misogyny and turn the tables on the trolls, we will do it."
In February 2017, a Queensland Parliamentary Committee recommended the legislation that will result in the cancellation of registration of vehicles with offensive slogans or advertisements that contravene advertising standards.
Local government responses
Numerous caravan and camping parks and businesses pertaining to tourism have stated they will refuse entry to vans carrying offensive slogans. Following community groundswell opposing the wicked slogans that promote rape, indecent sexual behaviour, Indigenous disrespect, harm to native wildlife and other offensive imagery and slogans, the Blue Mountains City Council notified the community on 1 June 2016 that it is looking at various options to ban Wicked Campervans with offensive, misogynistic, racial and degrading slogans and imagery from council managed tourist/caravan parks within the Blue Mountains. Wicked Campers appear to enjoy the free negative promotions of its business that the slogans draw, however they do not appear to be concerned about the implications on its market, generally young travelers, who may be influenced by these slogans to carry out actions that they would not normally otherwise do.
Writing in Australia’s media and marketing journal Mumbrella, its marketing and advertising editor, Simon Canning has said, "Adland can thank Wicked Campers for getting the law involved in ad regulation", with Mumbrella describing Wicked Campers as being Australia’s most out-of-control advertiser.
Wicked Camper reaction
- Connolly, John (18 April 2009). "No business like slogan business". The Australian. Retrieved 3 December 2011.
- Is this the end for Wicked Campers obscene slogans? Triple J 21 July 2016
- "Wicked slogan 'goes too far'". Stuff.co.nz. NZPA. 5 May 2010. Retrieved 3 December 2011.
- Lawrence, Jessica (20 July 2008). "Campervan slogans are too Wicked for words". The Sunday Mail. Retrieved 3 December 2011.
- "Controversial campervan found". The Cairns Post. 21 July 2008. Retrieved 3 December 2011.
- Gough, Anthony. "Naked Truth on Wicked Campers". Courier Mail. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
- Bastow, Clem. "Why women should boycott Wicked Campervans". Daily Life. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
- "Advertising Standards Board Determinations". Retrieved 9 February 2013.
- Dale, Amy (11 January 2010). "Tourists label Wicked campervans 'death traps'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 3 December 2011.
- "The Wicked Chronicles". Retrieved 1 July 2012.
- Schefe, Yolande (6 February 2011). "Wicked Campers rapped for stickers encouraging drivers to run down kangaroos". The Sunday Mail. Retrieved 3 December 2011.
- "Wicked Campers fined over misleading ads". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
- "Wicked Campers pays infringement notices". Retrieved 9 February 2013.
- Riley, Rachel (12 March 2016). "Calls to tackle rude vans". Townsville Bulletin. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
- "ACL Submission Transport Operations (Road Use Management) (Offensive Advertising) Amendment Bill 2016 QLD" (PDF). Retrieved 29 December 2016.
- Simonot, Suzanne (28 April 2016). "Offensive Wicked campervans not welcome at Gold Coast music festival Splendour in the Grass". Gold Coast Bulletin. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
- "Christian lobby sees red over Wicked vans". Retrieved 29 December 2016.
- "Wicked Campers with 'vile and appalling' slogans to be outlawed in Tasmania". Retrieved 28 December 2016.
- "Killing, topless women and Wicked Campers come before Advertising Standards Authority". Retrieved 28 December 2016.
- "Queensland to ban sexist slogans on campervans". Retrieved 28 December 2016.
- Preiss, Benjamin (5 December 2016). "Women to get equal share of senior state jobs - but not yet". The Age. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
- Transportation and Utilities Committee (February 2017). "Transport Operations (Road Use Management) (Offensive Advertising) Amendment Bill 2016" (PDF). Queensland Parliament. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
- Caldwell, Felicity (2 February 2017). "Queensland hire cars to be tested for road worthiness under new proposal". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
- "Blue Mountains Council seeks to ban Wicked campervans with 'degrading, sexist' slogans".
- Tuohy, Wendy (29 April 2015). "Get these puerile vans off our roads". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
- Canning, Simon (13 March 2017). "Adland can thank Wicked Campers for getting the law involved in ad regulation". Mumbrella. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
- Burrows, Tim (18 March 2017). "Wicked Campers – Australia's most out-of-control advertiser – is first to reach 100 watchdog rulings". Mumbrella. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
- "Offensive Wicked Campers to be banned in Queensland under new government plan". Retrieved 28 December 2016.