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Assistant general manager for marketing & PR Dave Harding told Mumbrella the ad is being withdrawn.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