Wicked Campers: John Webb apologises

July 23rd, 2014 | | industry

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 10.26.04 amBrisbane-based car rental company, Wicked Campers, has issued a formal apology to the woman whose petition over an offensive van slogan sparked uproar, and has committed to change slogans of an ‘insensitive nature’ on their vans over the next six months.

Wicked Campers said it wished to acknowledge the prevailing community opinion by painting over the slogan ‘In every princess, there’s a little slut who wants to try it just once’, which Sydney mother Paula Orbea spotted while with her 11 year-old daughter in the Blue Mountains on 13 July.

Orbea launched a petition on which received more than 100,000 signatures in days. It came on the same day the Senate unanimously passed a Greens’ motion condemning the slogans, which have been described as racist, sexist and misogynistic.

Picture: Wicked Slogans

Despite staunchly defending their signature graffiti-style artwork and refusing to respond to community demands in the initial aftermath of the petition, with Wicked director John Webb telling SBS that bad publicity was better and easier to get, and he was „happy to see” Wicked get marketed around the world because of the online petition; he then conceded and issued an apology.

„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”, said Webb in a statement.

„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’,” he said.

The company also invited anyone who feels strongly offended by a slogan to paint or tape over it.

Wicked have been burnt before when the Advertising Standards Bureau upheld a complaint in March about their ‘fat girls are easier to kidnap’ slogan, and has been subject to numerous complaints in the past six years. This time, it seems Wicked may have pushed their luck too far.

However, last week Human Rights Commissioner, Tim Wilson, defended the right of the company to use offensive slogans on its vans. Despite the success of the online campaign, he said people who disapproved should protest by not using the business.

“Government shouldn’t be going around telling people what they can and cannot say, unless it leads to direct and explicit harm,” Wilson told the ABC.

“Just removing things that are offensive, while it may seem attractive, is a very dangerous precedent at least because people always have very different views about what is offensive and therefore should be limited.”

Written by Kris Madden

Do you agree removing advertising material deemed offensive is a dangerous precedent? Have your say.

9 Responses

  1. David says:


    You are a legend.
    Those slogans featured are definitely not my cup of tea, however hats off for having the aggots to have them painted.
    I’ld drive one of your less tasteless vans any day of the week.

    Rock on.

  2. mak says:

    The world has gone mad…this is a brilliant slogan. How can a petition cause tus reaction.

  3. Greg Cole says:

    Every move this clever man takes drags his brand higher up the promotional flagpole. A mum in the mountains doesn’t like the word “slut” and in a heartbeat 100,000 people sign a petition and Wicked Campers is a headline – again. John, you’re a marketing slut of the highest calibre.

    • Sal says:

      And Greg you present an interesting profile..
      Have you ever explored your problems with women? Did you have an unhealthy mother/son relationship perhaps? Maybe you need to delve into this a little deeper because you obviously are not aware that you are giving away your psychological assessment with your comment. Good luck on your marriage and raising a family should you have one (or try). But then again, might be best you just stick to a pet.

  4. Paul says:

    Good on you John, its nice to see there are still some ‘risque’ products in the Aussie market. People wonder why our target audience are often skipping Australia for S.E.A and South America. They want to be able to let their hair down, go a bit wild for a while before settling into real life. Not being told when and what they can drink, where they can stay etc.
    There is so much red tape in Australia (although i understand some of it is necessary for safety)

  5. James says:

    Where’s all the slogans with men as the butt of the joke. Marketing guru or good old fashioned misogynist? Judgung by the fact that WIcked have now backed down I think it’s apparent it is not such a marketing masterstroke.

  6. peter says:

    Anybody who thinks that is not offensive for children (little princess they are often called) should have a long hard think about it.

    When you grow up a bit and have a family you will know what I am talking about.


  7. Sal says:

    Shows how many bogans there are in Australia and the dumb a…s are so thick it borders on ‘inbred’ mentality! W…..ville!

    Maybe they could have some male ones like:
    “A man called Justin can hardly call himself a man if he is Just In”
    “The bigger the van, the small the penis of this driver”
    “What is the use of a man if his dick is limp?”
    “Does your man last the distance, perhaps it’s time to do a trade-in?”
    “Ladies remember, the smaller the dick on a man, the bigger the chip on his shoulder.”

  8. John says:

    Thought I’d google John Webb to see what he looks like, after reading the recent story.
    He’s an ugly man to start with and just the type to do what he’s done. Good on Queensland for pushing him out. Some additional spray painting of his vans could improve the environment.