How should Holiday Parks manage Wicked’s wit?

A Wicked Advertising Strategy or Cheap Tricks?

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The car and caravan rental is a tough and competitive business, so how do you differentiate yourself from the market and find a niche?  

Wicked Campers have set themselves apart from the crowd by using retro style panel vans painted up in punk designs with cheeky slogans splashed across them aimed directly at the young, hip and alternative. Each rental combi vans or car features a spray painted design and slogan supposedly inspired by pop culture and purposely politically incorrect. When a Wicked Camper van pulls into a park or as it travels the highways, the bold design grabs attention and are an advertisement in themselves. Clever, huh?

Well-received artwork has included slogans like “Save a whale, harpoon a Jap” which couldn't really be taken as anything but simple political humour. Other slogans such as ‘Does your asshole ever get jealous of the s**t that comes out of your mouth?'  are more a matter of taste.

What has made Wicked Campers` name is not so much wit, but taking things too far.  This April (2014) media outlets received a stream of complaints focused on a slogan seen on a van in Queensland reading, ``Fat girls are harder to kidnap?”

The Advertising Standards Board (ASB) who administer ethics in advertising have upheld the complaints from the public stating the slogan's reference to fat girls was `tasteless and not nice`, however it did not `meet the threshold for being discriminatory or vilifying towards overweight females or to females in general`.  They also agreed that references to kidnapping was distasteful.  

The artwork is now off the road. However, they have not been fined for this latest offences and it`s by no means there first.

Larrikins or Serial Pests

Wicked Campers first hit newspapers in 2008 after a stream of complaints about sexism and sexual references on vans were received media outlets. Vans were displaying including “I wouldn`t trust anything that bleeds for five days and doesn`t die?” and “If God were a woman would sperm taste like chocolate?” After an initial slap on the wrists from the ASB, it appeared Wicked Campers were toning down the slogans, at least on their outside artwork.

In 2011 Wicked Camper were at it again this time placing stickers inside their vans reading, "Kangaroos, run the f**kers down". The company claimed it was all about safety and warning drivers not to swerve for wildlife. However, this obviously received criticism from animal rights activities.

Other Wicked Ways

It`s not just their taste in slogans and artwork that has gotten them into trouble. In 2010 the Queensland government released a report saying 90% of Wicked Vans in the state were unroadworthy and the vans were removed from Queensland roads for some time.  

In November 2011 Wicked Campers were fined by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) paying a rumoured AUD$26,400 in fines. The ACCC found misleading advertising regarding camper van hire fees and said that the company `failed to specify the single total price payable for the campervans and failed to adequately disclose certain mandatory fees`.

Wicked Games?

But is all this attention on purpose and could it be the best advertising money can buy with newspapers throughout the country give space to the company and controversy?  Is the ASB doing the right thing not fining them and not playing their game, keeping them off the front pages of newspaper?

Perhaps it up to caravan park owners and campervan renters to decide by embracing or boycotting the company.

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