Sex sells & innuendo can too, but misogyny does not.

Sex sells & innuendo can too, but misogyny does not.

Wicked Campers has hit the headlines this week for all the wrong reasons… again!

One could imagine that the company has been a pain in the backside for the Australian Advertising Standards Bureau for quite a few years, most likely since the company’s inception in the late 2000’s.

A quick Google search of #wickedcampers” displays a large range of images with offensive statements on vans on a global scale. From the most currently reported van sighted by a young teen girl who shared with us all in Australia on The Project, to messages that are mildly offensive.

At this point we’d like to say kudos to her for recognising and speaking up about the message, and to her parents for raising a confident young girl who can articulate what is right and wrong with parts of society and has the guts to follow through and stand up for her beliefs.

What we would like to know is… what is it that prompted Wicked Campers to go down this misogynistic, sexist and racist path with statements such as:

  • “In every princess, there’s a little slut who wants to try it just once”
  • “I’m as happy as a bitch with a cock in her mouth”
  • “It’s better to be black than gay because at least you don’t have to tell your parents”
  • “A vagina is like the weather… once it’s wet it’s time to go inside!”
  • “Fat chicks are harder to kidnap”
  • “Save a whale … harpoon a Jap”
  • “Women are like banks – once you withdraw you lose interest”
  • “A wife: an attachment you screw on the bed to get the housework done”

People might laugh… but not because it’s funny, the laugh is from disbelief, shock and embarrassment. A natural reaction when people are nervous, uncomfortable or feel something is wrong and CAN’T do something about it. Surely the owner of Wicked Campers isn’t as small-minded, sexist and racist as his company appears to be.

Is this really what appeals to their back-packer audience? If so, should we be worried about our society and the perception of womanising, violence, rape and racism moving forwards? When was the last time they did their market research or held focus group testing what messages that their audience would like to see?

So what of this brand for the future? The Australian Senate has become involved after a petition. A move that has forced the company to review the van messages and remove the offensive ones, a move that is sure to be costly especially coming into their peak operational season.

The owner and employees say the brand is just being fun, wanting to have a good time… really? If you read their “about” on their Facebook page it states that Wicked Campers are the “the sexiest way to see the world!”. Not that we don’t think that backpacking isn’t sexy (or fun), but doing it in one of these vans – of which it is hard to find a current positive testimonial about – surely wouldn’t be.

In some parts of the world, we’re pretty sure that travelling around in one of these vans would be reminiscent of the time that the Top Gear Boys drove through Alabama an experience that many would find sexy for sure [insert sarcasm here].

So what of their next steps… we’d like to see innuendo introduced. Along the lines of the smart witty humour, as such viewed on popular TV shows like The Simpsons or  Futurama. Or even more inspirational statements like “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. ~Lao Tzu” which can be graphically translated in a fun and colourful graffiti manner. Or keep to the famous and funny movie lines… like “We can’t stop here, this is bat country!”

We also believe that the ideas suggested by Sebastian Vasta on Mumbrella would help Wicked Campers move out of this mess. There is no acknowledgement of this saga on any of their online communication streams to date, suggesting that while they say they will act upon the public blowback, they don’t really believe that they should. In such a globally digital age, an acknowledgement of this wrong would go a long way.

The best way to avoid this brand damaging commotion in the first place … don’t publish anything that you wouldn’t say in front your Grandma or Grandpa, no matter how wicked their sense of humour.