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Council ‘powerless to act’ on offensive slogans

An offensive Wicked Campers slogan being painted over. In 2014 the company's boss approved the strategy but subsequently did an about-face and now says he will sue them. Photo Instagram

An offensive Wicked Campers slogan being painted over. In 2014 the company’s boss approved the strategy but subsequently did an about-face and now says he will sue people who do so. Photo Instagram

Chris Dobney

Byron Shire Council says taking action on offensive slogans, such as the ones on Wicked camper vans that have recently drawn public ire, is the role of police.

Last week Byron shire grandfather Paul McCarthy told media he had a ‘brain snap’ when he saw the slogan ‘A blow job a day beats an apple’ on the back of a Wicked Camper vehicle recently and spray-painted over the offending word.

The exact same slogan was the subject of an advertising standards complaint in 2014 and the company was then slammed by the advertising watchdog its sexually explicit slogans.

The Advertising Standards Bureau then ruled that ‘that the inclusion of this slogan on a van had no relevance to the nature of the business which is to hire vans for travel and that in this way, the slogan is completely out of context and is sexually explicit.’

The publication Ad News said in an article in 2014 that the company was ‘a regular on the ASB complaint circuit’ adding, ‘it’s not the first time the company has turned it’s nose up at responding to case determinations.

Wicked campers have ignored petitions, Advertising Standards Bureau and a senate request that it remove its offensive slogans.

Wicked campers have ignored petitions, Advertising Standards Bureau and a senate request that it remove its offensive slogans.

Senate motion ignored

In 2014 the Senate passed a motion calling upon the company to paint over its misogynist, racist and homophobic slogans within six months, which management agreed to but never did.

Since painting over the slogan when it reappeared in Byron Bay last week, Mr McCarthy said he feared the owners of the rent-a-van business would take him to court.

In 2014 Wicked Campers chief executive John Webb told customers ‘if it offends you, paint it out,’ apparently giving them permission to paint over the offensive graffiti on his vans.

But in April last year, after ignoring the Advertising Standards Bureau and the Senate, he did an about face, telling the website SmartCompany, ‘Wicked Campers will no longer permit individuals or groups, to in any way manipulate the artwork or general appearance of its vehicles or property.’

Mr McCarthy has subsequently called on Byron Shire Council to ban the vans, saying he would appeal to councillors on the issue at their meeting on Thursday (April 7).

But the matter is not on the agenda for Thursday’s meeting and according to Wayne Bertram, manager of BSC’s regulatory services, it is not an issue council can act upon.

Mr Bertram said, however, that police could take action under the Summary Offences Act.

He said the council would discuss the issue with local police and write to the Brisbane-based owners of Wicked Campers outlining community concerns.

‘The council does get a little bit frustrated with some people’s attitude towards what they think is acceptable behavior,’ he told ABC radio this morning, adding that council would ‘try and work with everyone to try and resolve the matters.’

‘Some people have also taken the matter into their own hands to “tidy up” some of the vans themselves,’ he said.


2 responses to “Council ‘powerless to act’ on offensive slogans”

  1. Julie Simpson says:

    I am deeply offended and shocked by these slogans they are sexist, mysoginist slurs..nothing intelligent..a law needs to be passed to stop this from continuing..they are the same as advertising vans driving around advertising movies or events…if they were offensive something would be done about it…these wicked campers are indeed wicked!

  2. Nancy Jo says:

    Maybe if customers were to say to Wicked camper agents that they won’t hire a van with objectionable slogans, this would all stop! Wouldn’t that be nice!

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