A group of protesters took to Brisbane’s CBD on Saturday rallying against vulgar and sexist slogans on Wicked Camper vans. The group called Wicked Pickets say the offending slogans promote sexist attitudes and violence against women. The organisers want stronger legislation around advertising standards to force the company to remove the offensive material.
Last month we published this piece by Paula Orbea who succesfully led a campaign against the offensive vans in 2014.
‘Wicked Campers Owner, John Webb wishes to acknowledge the prevailing community opinion by REMOVING the slogan in question and making a commitment over the coming six months to changing slogans of an insensitive nature. Bear in mind however, many of the images presented in the media of our vehicles are from up to 8 years ago, and the vehicles simply do not exist anymore.’
That is lifted from Press Release dated July 16 2014.
I have to say, now that the commitment John Webb made has expired, I was probably the only chump who actually held hope that he and his team – including Ross Dudgeon, who wrote and spoke to me on John Webb’s behalf six months ago – would keep their word. It appears, however, that their ‘concern’ for what a great deal of people perceived as crossing-the-line, was a mere flash in the pan to divert any more attention toward the business and its practices because, the simple fact is, their promise has not been kept.
I contacted Wicked Campers a few weeks ago but they have not responded to me in regards to this matter. The campaign I started six months ago, which started with my 11 year old seeing a very offensive slogan, attracted world-wide attention with 133 articles written – had a Change.org petition won in 4 days with 127, 000+ signatures – inspired Greens Senator, Larissa Waters, to put forward a motion to the Senate to condemn Wicked Campers, which received a rare, unanimous vote – but, regardless of this, Wicked Campers have still decided to discard their own commitment to change.
Over the last few weeks, more and more people have been coming forward with images of Wicked Camper vans, that have been photographed around Australia, and they’re not impressed. The most frustrating component continues to be the fact that parents find themselves powerless when their children read aloud inappropriate slogans they sight and then scramble to try and create a ‘child-friendly’ explanation; as well as the fact that a wider community – outside the tiny 20s, backpacker demographic Wicked Campers aims at – are also not wishing to read them either.
Let’s not forget that this violation of the public space, encapsulates the biggest problem. No one is denying that people can’t share a ‘joke’ amongst themselves, but it is the intrusion and face-rubbing of these ‘jokes’ in the common spaces of society, that infuriates a large portion of people. It must also be made clear that this does not mean that Wicked don’t have any vans with good slogans – on the contrary, there are some good ones out there.
But that is not what all of this is about.
So let’s have a look.
The van below caused a mother, Christine King, to contact Wicked Campers due to the fact this particular van was parked outside a busy cafe area in Brisbane in November – at the school pick-up time – the main part that was visible to her and her kids (as seen from her photo below) said: You’re F#ckin’ Out! I’m F#ckin’ In!
I was under the impression that the use of the word ‘fuck’ is not permitted in public advertisements and yet… voilá!
Wicked Campers brushed Christine off when she contacted them, so she registered an official complaint to the Advertising Standards Bureau – which was upheld – but again, Wicked Campers have failed to comply to that ruling.
Christine also wrote to Brisbane City Council, the State Premier, the Police Commissioner and Police Minister and all have come back with the same conclusion – outlined succinctly by her local MP Aaron Dillaway. He wrote:
‘Under the current system, outdoor advertising relies heavily on self-regulation, and those who refuse to comply are not penalised. For this reason, the Attorney-General announces that he is committed to exploring options to properly enforce the decisions of the ASB, which raised in the HCSC report.’
Dillaway also wrote to the Hon Jarrod Bleijie – The Queensland Attorney General and Minister for Justice – and below was his response.
In short, consequences are being looked into for those who breach ASB rulings, but for now, Wicked Campers continues to ride the loophole they have always exploited.
This exploitation has allowed the following, appalling slogan to exist (even though the ASB found the play on words to be sufficiently clever to not uphold a complaint against it); saying a woman can’t wrestle + you should see her box (vulva). Just take the word ‘but’ out and this becomes something more sinister. Why anyone would write that a female can’t wrestle in these contentious times of domestic and social violence against women – is beyond me. Then add the cherry on the top, the “I’m a Believer’ sign to the mix.
The image was taken from their Instagram page.
Finally, I saw on the Instagram page of one of the artists, (from November 2104) that the van with ‘Random Breast Test’ had been sprayed over by a disgruntled person (something John Webb said people could do in his Press Release:
‘In the spirit of being ‘actionist’, Wicked Campers also invites anybody who feels strongly offended by a slogan to either paint or tape over it.’
Well, redo they did – the van below being seen on Jan 2 2015 near Kings Cross, Sydney – which makes me wonder why Wicked Campers didn’t respray it with something else – AS THEY PROMISED.
Question #221: How is it possible that this van is permitted on the streets with NO consequence?
This is now my next step and am currently working toward there being a consequence.
I cannot speak for anyone else – but I am more incensed now than I was six months ago.
I also want to add, that as a parent, there are a whole lot of other perspectives that I want to navigate my children through, at the age appropriate time. One of these is the issue of drugs and there are also many WC vans that also make reference to drug taking.
I found the following (from their Instagram page) to be in ridiculous poor taste, as well as one that would particularly draw the attention of children:
People power must prevail as these perspectives are breaking Community Standards but being thrust into our public sphere regardless.
I am working on getting legislation passed to hold those who don’t take down advertisements deemed inappropriate by the Advertising Standards Bureau. I’ll need your support.
I would like to importantly add – that this needs to be tackled without any threatening comments or violent threats to anyone at Wicked Campers. That solves nothing and creates more of the same.
I will keep you posted from my end.
This article was originally published here.