Isuzu Ute Australia withdraws competition after campaign describes it as an ‘X-rated Thailand sex tour’

xrunner-isuzu 2Isuzu Ute Australia is withdrawing a campaign and complementary promotion for its new D-Max ute following a petition started by The Collective Shout which called for the company to withdraw what it described as a “‘X-rated’ Thailand sex tour competition”.

The company was promoting its new D-Max ute with the positioning of it being ‘X-rated’ as it sought to attract a younger buyer, and offering the chance for a member of the public to win “five hot nights” for “you and three mates” in Bangkok, Thailand.

Assistant general manager for marketing & PR Dave Harding told Mumbrella the ad is being withdrawn.

The car maker has released an official statement which said: “It has been brought to our attention that recent advertising promoting The X-Runner has caused concern and offence to some viewers. We chose Thailand as the destination of the X-Runner competition prize as it is the ‘home’ of the D-MAX and for no other reason.

“We understand the associated imagery and language in the campaign may have confused some viewers as to the intent of this prize.  On behalf of Isuzu Ute Australia, we sincerely apologise. As such, we have removed this advertising from our campaign and will implement a new creative direction.”

Harding explained the release of the X-Runner and the direction to “gear it towards a younger demographic than our normal ute buyer” resulted in the “X-Rated” campaign which was created by GPY&R Brisbane and has been running for around a month. The Thailand promotion was developed by the Isuzu team.

“We do take this very seriously. The last thing in the world we’d want to do is insinuate something like this,” he said.

The Collective Shout, which describes itself as a grassroots campaigning movement against the objectification of women and sexualisation of girls in media, advertising and popular culture, argued that due to Thailand being “widely known to be a hot spot for human trafficking and child prostitution” and hosting “Asia’s largest sex industry” it was an inappropriate alignment for the Isuzu company.

The petition, which at the time of publication has gained 868 signatures, read:

It is estimated that 250,000 Western male tourists visit Thailand every year for the purposes of sex tourism. We should be absolutely ashamed that 32,500 of these are Australian men.

This is worth repeating – despite widespread community outrage about child sex abuse, and condemnation for those who commit such abuse, an estimated 32,500 Australian men visit Thailand every year to purchase women and girls for sex,many of whom are in conditions of sexual slavery. Many of these girls entered the sex industry unwillingly and were trafficked as children.

Unless we eliminate men’s demand for the bodies of women and children, we will never see an end to human sex trafficking. It is not acceptable for Isuzu to encourage such demand among its customers.

Men and Women we invite you to take a stand against sexual exploitation and sex trafficking.  Isuzu must cancel the competition and withdraw its “X rated” themed advertising immediately. Sign the petition!

Harding said the next step for Isuzu will be to speak with their creative agency GPY&R Brisbane and “do a new campaign and produce some new creative”.


  1. Dave
    17 Apr 14
    2:16 pm

  2. Damned political correctness.

    An x-rated tour sounds awesome.

  3. Andy
    17 Apr 14
    2:17 pm

  4. Honestly, who signs-off and approves this sort of campaign?

    What sort of governance is in place at Isuzu for this to slip through the cracks?

  5. Glenn Mabbott
    17 Apr 14
    2:22 pm

  6. Good to see my single vote among 868 counts for something

  7. Rob R
    17 Apr 14
    2:26 pm

  8. “We understand the associated imagery and language in the campaign may have confused some viewers as to the intent of this prize.” Silly viewers! Neon signs for sex clubs, 5 “hot nights” in a notorious sex tourist destination, “Perve”, “X-Rated” how could those simpletons draw the wrong intents from that???
    Wake up, the campaign was a shocker and your response to it is salt in the wound. Should have just written “we were wrong, we’ve withdrawn it, we’re sorry” blaming the viewers, really?

  9. Jennifer Choveaux
    17 Apr 14
    2:29 pm

  10. I thank you for withdrawing the competition and advert. It seems many have no idea what happens and it would do you well to watch Exodus Cry’s DVD “Nefarious” .
    I think you would do well looking for a new “Creative Agency”.

  11. Adam Hodge
    17 Apr 14
    2:30 pm

  12. Sounds like this was the clients work, not the agency. The ‘X Rated’ campaign idea didn’t cause concern, it was the sales promotion that made the Thailand link that triggered the issues. The quote below suggests the Sales Promo was the brainchild of the in-house folk at Isuzu. Still agree with Andy that there should have been better QC to catch stuff like this before it goes live, but lets not hang the creative idea, its the execution that was flawed.

    “X-Rated” campaign which was created by GPY&R Brisbane and has been running for around a month. The Thailand promotion was developed by the Isuzu team”

  13. Angela Taylor
    17 Apr 14
    2:35 pm

  14. ‘WIN 5 hot nights in Bangkok’, ‘GIRLS GIRLS’, ’24 Hours’ ‘Open’, ‘Have a perve’. These words all clearly appear in the advert yet no-one at the company, agency or PR wrangler thought it might be inappropriate? The ad should never had made it to sign off.

    If that same ad appeared with the words substituted to ‘WIN 5 hot nights in Melbourne’, ‘GIRLS GIRLS etc I would still take issue with it. Come on guys, you can all do better than that.

  15. Mal
    17 Apr 14
    2:53 pm

  16. Dave: wish you were the child prostitute being forced to work in the sex industry… though sounds like your dream job

  17. Mako
    17 Apr 14
    2:54 pm

  18. Yeah, I can’t possibly see how “girls girls girls” and “5 hot nights” could possibly “confuse some viewers” into thinking it’s a sex tour.


  19. Adam Paull
    17 Apr 14
    2:59 pm

  20. How were they going to draw the winner – Ping-pong balls?

  21. Far Canal
    17 Apr 14
    3:27 pm

  22. Hey Dave, have you watched all the episodes in your Two and a Half Men Boxed set yet? Its such a funny show hey?

  23. Angela Taylor
    17 Apr 14
    3:30 pm

  24. A bit more background on the issue sexual slavery/people trafficking for those who might be interested…

    Project Respect was founded in 1998 by Kathleen Maltzahn, as a feminist service conducting outreach to women in the sex industry. Kathleen has worked on violence against women for many years, including five years in the Philippines where she primarily worked with women in street, bar and military prostitution.

    Kathleen founded Project Respect in 1998, and in 2003 spearheaded the successful campaign to put the trafficking of women for prostitution on the national agenda. In 2004 she was awarded an RMIT Research award, with Dr Sallie Yea, for; ‘Countering Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation in Australia’. In 2005 she was awarded the inaugural Dame Phyllis Frost Award from the National Council of Women of Victoria in recognition of her work on trafficking. Kathleen’s recent book, Trafficked, was published by the UNSW Press in July 2008, and in November 2008 was shortlisted for an Australian Human Rights Commission Human Rights Award for non-fiction literature. You can purchase a copy of ‘Trafficked’ online or call the Project Respect office on 03 9416 3401

  25. Concerned
    17 Apr 14
    3:52 pm

  26. Dave – I wouldn’t call the disgust at this promotion political correctness. More like common human decency. Maybe you like the sound of a sex tour of Thailand, paying for sex with vulnerable young women and girls, but the rest of us find that kind of loser behaviour abhorrent. Pull your head in.

  27. Pete
    17 Apr 14
    4:18 pm

  28. Since when is a holiday to Thailand a “sex tour” ? – FFS.

  29. Drew
    17 Apr 14
    5:16 pm

  30. Gold Gold Gold to ISUZU. The dumbest campaign of 2014……

    Gen Y marketers I’d say – don’t think stuff through…..

  31. Sam
    17 Apr 14
    5:41 pm

  32. 32,500 blokes who couldnt give a stuff about political correctness may well have bought that ute … Not bad figures really.

  33. Dave Martin
    17 Apr 14
    6:12 pm

  34. I checked the Isuzu promo webpage earlier today & found that the correct guess to enter the promo competition (I.e. the correct answer out of 3 possibilities) was “The clubs of SOI Cowboy”. Google “The Clubs of SOI Cowboy” on an open image search brings up stacks of pictures of scantily clad young women in pole dance scenarios. Therefore, the company protest that the linking of ‘X-Rated’ & ‘5 Hot nights in Bangkok’, aimed at a young male audience has nothing to do with sex tourism suggests the Isuzu marketing team believes the general Australian public is more than just a bit naive! Personally, I don’t buy that line for a moment & I’m glad that the company has sat up and taken notice of this campaign..

  35. KGB
    17 Apr 14
    6:58 pm

  36. Stupid promo.

    Almost as stupid as trying to link it to the infamous “gen y”.

    @ drew – there’s one of you in every crowd.

  37. AdGrunt
    18 Apr 14
    7:54 am

  38. My disdain for Collective Gout is well know.

    However this campaign sits squarely in the “fucking stupid” box and only adds fuel to their self-righteous fire.

    But it’s nice that according to them pretty much any man visiting Thailand is going to fuck a trafficked whore. And that wimmin never have sex overseas.

  39. Nadine
    19 Apr 14
    7:23 pm

  40. Can’t believe this passed sign off or that they can try to pretend this was just an innocent Thailand holiday. At least they have had the sense to fix this now. Better late than never I suppose.

  41. Stereotype
    20 Apr 14
    8:48 am

  42. So does every one of the 32,500 Aussies go to Thailand for sex? What about the women?

    Granted, shit campaign, but stating all Aussie males that visit the region are doing it as a ‘sex tour’ for the objectification of women trafficked into slavery is a load of horse shit.

  43. Joyce
    21 Apr 14
    5:47 pm

  44. Why MUST THEY use this tactic for the younger audience buyers to become the next generation of ute owners?
    How degrading to that generation that they use this promotion tactic for them. Degrading for all men, but especially for a potentially new customer, lured because “sex sells”.
    Truly, the best thing the Isusu representative said was that they were going to be more CREATIVE. Well hello, why didn’t they do that from the start. Being creative to me means ‘let’s not lean on the old nature of ‘sex sells’ that is so outdated, let be creative and dignified’. That is being creative! It will be interesting to see their next advert. And future ads, to see if they have learned from this offensive advertising gimmick.

  45. cath
    21 Apr 14
    8:26 pm

  46. well done to The Collective Shout!

  47. AdGrunt
    22 Apr 14
    9:49 am

  48. I wonder which commenters are from Collective Gout?

  49. AndrewL
    22 Apr 14
    10:38 am

  50. PC brigade seriously need to lighten up, it was a stupid campaign idea, sure.

    but all the non media trolls on mumbrella sh!t me to tears.

  51. Spydah
    22 Apr 14
    12:56 pm

  52. Isn’t it interesting to see that nearly all of the abusive and foul comments in this blog come from those people who think that it’s OK to run this type of promotion, which appeals to the yobbo element in our society. I guess they’re the ones who are disappointed at missing out on a chance at the prize.
    Belated congratulations to Isuzu for withdrawing the campaign, but it doesn’t say much for their judgement, or that of their agency, to have launched it in the first place.
    It’s good to see a victory for commonsense over yobbo-ism.

  53. Louise
    22 Apr 14
    3:17 pm

  54. Good to see the cancellation of campaign – and cheers to Collective Shout .

    Have to see a couple of the comments (such as Dave at no. 1) are from seriously creepy guys – eeeeew – what more can I say… so – I’ll say it again – Dave – you are eeeeeew – creepy, creepy, creepy – yuck – eeeeeew – hope that no one ever leaves you around small children.

  55. J
    22 Apr 14
    4:03 pm

  56. “We understand the associated imagery and language in the campaign may have confused some viewers as to the intent of this prize.”

    SERIOUSLY!!! Take responsibility!

  57. far canal
    22 Apr 14
    4:03 pm

  58. Hey Louise, Dave is single too, and he thinks Two and Half Men is a hilarious show!!!!:)

  59. Charles
    22 Apr 14
    9:21 pm

  60. The “confused some viewers” line has to be included in some upcoming yearly wrap-up of terrible PR statements. Wowza. That takes some balls to call a literal flashing neon sign a misunderstanding.

  61. Oksanna
    3 May 14
    1:32 pm

  62. “Unless we eliminate men’s demand for the bodies of women and children”… so the slavers and corrupt government officials are a secondary problem? Okaaay. It just seems a tad of a Victorian era moralistic perspective. Or should I say it is a predictable “essentialist” feminist approach which sees oppression in terms of innate moral qualities ascribed by gender, (male=bad, woman=virtuous) and fails to take into account economic and social factors…like said corruption, poverty, and the slave traders themselves who could include women? The recent 2013 case of a Chinese doctor Zhang Shuxia, of Fuping County, Shaanxi Province, who sold girl babies of the poor for profit, must not be on this organization’s radar, because, well she was a woman, right? It was obviously the evil bachelor farmers of northwest China who made her do it.