Advertiser that urges fuel-stealing, fine-dodging and ‘snogging an aboriginal’ censured

Wicked Campers cockA series of ads by a camper van hire company – including one urging customers to “snog an aboriginal” have fallen foul of Australia’s Advertising Standards Board.   

The three most recent Wicked Campers ads to be censured by the ASB are:

A brochure that included the words:

“Other reasons: Waking up at the beach having uninterrupted sex every morning, all night parties, loads of room for goon bags, get pissed on by a koala, box a kangaroo, kill your dinner with a boomerang, eat roadkill, free fuel (siphon hose not included), massages with happy endings, free camping at Wolf Creek, romantic alfresco dining, deep and meaningful conversations, snog an aboriginal, score a speeding ticket you never have to pay….plus you can get shit-faced all the time while never missing a sunset!”

When the ASB looked into a complaint, Wicked Campers told it:

We do not believe for one minute that this ‘advert’ is promoting anti-social behaviour, it’s simply encouraging young travellers to make the most of their stay in Australia and support local Australian businesses financially by spending there money on all of the cool things to do while in Australia. In relation to the quote, ‘snog an aboriginal,’ I am not sure how this can be considered as racist or the vilification of a race at all. Is the complainant saying that they wouldn’t snog an Aboriginal? Why not? Surely that is racist in itself and the vilification of a race?!”

The ASB said it noted “the references in the advertisement to not paying speeding tickets, stealing petrol and suggestions of excessive alcohol consumption, and considered that these references were not appropriate as they suggested and encouraged activities that would be considered to be in breach of prevailing community standards of health and safety.”

Wicked adThe second upheld complaint was about an ad in the Irish Echo Australia featuring two copulating kangaroos. According to the ASB:

“The Kangaroos each have a speech bubble. The male Kangaroo is depicted as saying “Do you like it in your AVIS?” The female is depicted as saying “Yes, but it really HERTZ!”

But Wicked Campers claimed: “It doesn’t actually mean anything offensive and to be construed in such a way simply points to the dirty mind of the complainant.”

The ASB said that it had previously considered the copulating kangaroos – which are a regular feature of Wicked Campers’ ads – and determined that using the image did not breach the code. But it ruled: “The Board considered that this text was suggestive of anal intercourse and that this was inappropriate in a magazine advertisement and was not a sexual reference that treated with sensitivity to the relevant audience.”

And the third upheld complaint was over the signage on a Wicked Campers van which read: ““I NEVER THINK ABOUT GAY SEX….LIKE FUCK”.

Wicked Campers said it had changed the last two words to “YEAH RIGHT”.

The ASB said: “The Board noted that it is required to consider the form of the advertisement at the time of the complaint. The Board considered that the phrase used on the van was offensive, strong and obscene language, was not used in any humorous or otherwise mitigating manner”.

Several other new complaints against Wicked Campers were not upheld. They included one about a message on a sign painted on a van that read: ““Sex is one of the most wholesome, beautiful and natural experiences money can buy,” accompanied by cartoons of animals in suggestive positions.

The rulings raise a question over the industry’s ability to self regulate non mainstream advertiser. In recent years, the ASB has considered around 20 complaints against Wicked Campers, but has struggled to issue a meaningful sanction, as the brand constantly changes its creative.

A current campaign being used by Wicked Campers sees it using naked photographs of its customers, who pose in exchange for a free day’s rental.

Although the brand mainly uses print advertising, this is a previous example of a homemade Wicked Campers TVC:


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.