Complaint: 10/067

Wicked Campers Van Advertisement

Details

Complainants
J. Graham
advertisers
Wicked Campers
Year
2010
Media
Out of Home
Product
Vehicles / Transportation
Clauses
Decision
Upheld / Settled
ASA Links
Website Listing
Decision Document

Document

DECISION

Meeting 7 April 2010

Complaint 10/067


Complainant: J. Graham
Advertisement: Wicked Campers


Complaint: A Wicked Campers rental van had spray-painted on the back/boot door the words: "If you love me you would swallow it". Above the one-liner was the website address for the company (wickedcampers.com) and above that was their 0800 phone number.


Complainant, J. Graham, said:

"Type: Outdoor
Where: This van was parked at Mc Donald's Hamilton at 10am 3rd Feb. Our workplace of 150 people overlook this carpark and we received over sixty complaints from staff regarding the advertising material on the back of the van ( photo attached). Who: Wicked Advertising
Product: That if you love someone you should swallow their semen

Complaint -
This van was parked at McDonald's Hamilton at 10am 3rd Feb. Our workplace of 150 people overlook this carpark and we received over sixty complaints from staff regarding the advertising material on the back of the van (photo attached). Staff, both men and women, were disturbed and upset and the words used were offensive, disgusting, appalling and the general view was that it had gone too far. Two people felt nauseous. Most were disturbed at the prospect of children viewing this material. We rang the Wicked Campers NZ based company immediately who basically said that they did not care. Staff now have asked that a formal complaint be lodged and this complaint is from sixty employees."


The Chairman ruled that the following provisions were relevant:

Code of Ethics

Basic Principle 4 - All advertisements should be prepared with a due sense of social responsibility to consumers and to society

Rule 4: Decency - Advertisements should not contain anything which clearly offends against generally prevailing community standards taking into account the context, medium, audience and product (including services).

Rule 5: Offensiveness - Advertisements should not contain anything which in the light of generally prevailing community standards is likely to cause serious or widespread offence taking into account the context, medium, audience and product (including services).


The Advertiser, Wicked Campers, said:

"With regards to the Wicked one-liner in question I would like to point out that it does not say what should be swallowed. The first thing that popped into my mind was feelings. When you are in a relationship you often have to swallow your feelings such as your annoyance or anger over something your partner has done.

Wicked Campers can not control the filthy minds of the general public who see a few words strung together and instantly think it means something rude and disgusting. Wicked are disgraced that the rude meaning in question was the first thing that popped into your mind. I ask that you look at it from another point of view, the way that I read it and you will see that it is not inappropriate at all.

This one-liner should in no way cause offence, and even it is interpreted in a rude way, only adults would read it as this and so it is appropriate for its intended audience.

I would also like to point out that the one-liner is not an advertisement; it is the musing of a member of the Wicked team. It is not advertising anything. The one-liners on the back of our vans are no different to sayings that you read on t-shirts and they are certainly not as offensive. However people do not complain about a man wearing a t-shirt in sight of the general population which includes young children."

I hope you can see that the one-liner is suitable for its intended audience and that it does not break the code of ethics."


Deliberation

The Complaints Board read the correspondence relevant to the complaint and the wording in the Wicked Campers van advertisement. It noted that a number of people "were disturbed and upset" by the wording "If you loved me you would swallow it" in the advertisement saying "the words used were offensive, disgusting, appalling and the general view was that it had gone too far."

The Chairman directed the Complaints Board to consider the complaint with reference to Basic Principle 4 and Rules 4 and 5 of the Code of Ethics. This required the Complaints Board to consider whether the advertisement had been prepared with a due sense of social responsibility, whether it contained anything which clearly offended against generally prevailing community standards taking into account the context, medium, audience and product (including services), and/or whether it contained anything which was likely to cause serious or widespread offence in the light of generally prevailing community standards.

As a preliminary matter, the Complaints Board noted the Advertiser's response where it said: "I would also like to point out that the one-liner is not an advertisement; it is the musing of a member of the Wicked team. It is not advertising anything." The Complaints Board confirmed that it was first required to determine whether the wording before it as seen on the back of a van was an advertisement. It noted that the van displayed wording identifying the Advertiser and presenting the Advertiser's web address.

The Complaints Board then referred to previous Decision 08/005 regarding Wicked Campers, where it had said:

"The Complaints Board then referred to the Codes Booklet, Section 5. INTERPRETATION, where it said:

"For the purposes of the Codes:

o The word "advertisement" is to be taken in its broadest sense to embrace any form of advertising and includes advertising which promotes the interest of any person, product or service, imparts information, educates, or advocates an idea, belief, political viewpoint or opportunity. ... Other examples include posters, pamphlets and billboards (whether stationary or mobile) and addressed or unaddressed mail."

In its view, the material on the exterior of the car, which clearly identified an advertiser, promoted a product in a particular manner, and thereby the Complaints Board said it fell within the definition of an advertisement and was subject to the Advertising Codes."

The Complaints Board confirmed that the material before it was similarly an advertisement.

The Complaints Board took into account the medium on which the advertisement had been displayed - a "mobile billboard", where the content would be visible to a wide-ranging audience, including children.

It then took into account the wording on the campervan and was unanimously of the view that it would be likely to cause serious and widespread offence in the light of generally prevailing community standards, and also offended against generally prevailing community standards taking into account the context, medium, audience and product.

Thereby it ruled that the advertisement was in breach of Rules 4 and 5 of the Code of Ethics. Furthermore, the Complaints Board said the advertisement had not been prepared and displayed with a due sense of social responsibility, and thereby ruled that it was in breach of Basic Principle 4.

The Complaints Board ruled to uphold the complaint.

Decision: Complaint Upheld