Wicked brand personality goes too far

Wicked campers

Wicked Campervans have a history of being criticised for their racists, sexist and violent slogans spray-painted on their vans which act as moving billboards. With slogans such as “Women are like banks — once you withdraw you lose interest” and “A wife: an attachment you screw on the bed to get the housework done” it’s not surprising that they have been subject to public ridicule. Until recently the brand has defied critics, advertising standards regulators and community driven campaigns.

Thirty-one complaints against Wicked slogans have been upheld by the Advertising Standards Bureau in the six years to April, with 22 dismissed. According to media journal Mumbrella, Wicked no longer even bothers to respond to ASB findings.

The owner of Wicked Campervans, John Webb, tends to embrace the any publicity is good publicity mentality however this time the community support was too great for him to ignore the complaints.

Sydney mother Paula Orbea had to explain the slogan “Inside every Princess is a little slut wanting to try it just once” to her 11 year-old daughter, she started a Wicked Campers protest petition that gained more than 125,000 signatures in three days. The Senate has since ordered that the brand remove sexist, misogynistic and racist slogans from their campervans.

Webb said: “As is often quoted: ‘A sense of humour is a sense of proportion’. And in this instance, we admit that we have taken things out of proportion and out of the realms of what is considered to be ‘socially acceptable’.

“It is impossible for us to conceive that a throw-away message written on a van could have such far-reaching implications for the community at large.”

With vans such as the following, it is hard to believe that Webb can actually stand behind that last comment.

wicked campers 2

These messages are clearly pushing the boundaries and going too far. No doubt the brand has a strong personality that it needs to maintain however, in this case there is a fine line between effective brand personality and being arrogant and irresponsible in the eyes of society.

They started with a good idea and a strong personality that quickly differentiated their brand in what was once a boaring market but they  seem to have lost their way over time.

I’m all for their humorous brand personality and out there statements but this wicked brand personality is taking things too far. However, it is important to remember that not all of their vans are offensive. This personality gives them an edge over competitors and speaks to their target market of young backpackers however the brand needs to define some parameters around this to ensure they don’t take it too far.

wicked campers 3

Gemma Dittmar
Director of Brand Projects

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