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Wicked founder's warning: 'We will prosecute' for damages

The founder of Wicked Campers says he will take action against anyone who paints over his vehicles' slogans.
The founder of Wicked Campers says he will take action against anyone who paints over his vehicles' slogans. Megan Kinninment

UPDATE, 4pm: TWO years ago Wicked Campers founder John Webb told people they could cover up slogans on their vehicles if they found the wording offensive, but it didn't take him long to backflip on that idea.

When complaints flooded in to Wicked Campers Europe in 2014, Mr Webb issued the following statement: "First and foremost, we sincerely apologise for any distress that has been caused.

"Anybody who is familiar with our brand would probably know that we are strong proponents of free speech and pushing the limits of humour - we are a 'cash for chaos' kind of company.

"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'."

Mr Webb went on to mention the charity donations the company had made, before inviting people to cover up offensive language in the slogans.

"In the spirit of being 'actionist', Wicked Campers also invites anybody who feels strongly offended by a slogan to either paint or tape over it," the statement said.

Less than 12 months later, on April 24, 2015, Mr Webb issued another statement on the Wicked Campers website retracting the offer.

"Furthermore, it has become apparent that several bad-asses in the community have accepted our prior offer to repaint or cover any material they deem to be 'offensive' or 'not fit for communal viewing' by completely destroying our vehicles.

"Or by spraying very creative and socially-inspiring messages such as 'd**khead' or the repetitive use of the word 'no'.

"While this is all very inspiring and we truly appreciate the input of a very boisterous minority, Wicked Campers will, from this day April 24, 2015, be seeking to prosecute any person or persons who paint, cover or in any way damage a Wicked Camper or any property associated or belonging to Wicked Campers."

 

UPDATE 1.50PM: BYRON grandfather John McCarthy is one of hundreds of thousands of people globally who have voiced their opposition to slogans on Wicked Campers.

In 2014, Sydney mother Paula Orbea launched an online petition on website change.org which has attracted more than 127,000 supporters.

What sparked Mrs Orbea to launch the petition was a crass encounter with a Wicked Camper in the Blue Mountains while her 11-year-old daughter was in the car.

Emblazoned on the van was the slogan "'In every princess, there's a little slut who wants to try it just once".

Mrs Orbea wrote on change.org her daughter was upset by this because she felt, as a girl, that the slogan was referring to her and it made her fear being perceived that way - especially by someone she may cross paths with who may agree with that perspective.

"This particular phrase promotes paedophilia and resonates very badly with everyone who thinks it's abhorrent to sexually assault a girl, especially by groomed males who think 'she wants it'," Mrs Orbea wrote.

Other online petitions have been launched in Queensland and New Zealand to try to force governments to change legislation to close a loophole allowing the slogans to be used.

Since it was started in July 2014, the Boycott Wicked Campers Facebook page has attracted almost 3,500 followers who are against the misogynistic slogans.

In April 2015, the worlds largest travel guide Lonely Planet announced it was removing Wicked Campers from future editions to complaints about the offensive slogans.

In New Zealand last month the Abel Tasman's Kaiteriteri Beach Motor Camp on the south island banned Wicked Campers from using the park due to the offensive slogans on the vehicles.

Kaiteriteri Beach Motor Camp website says the campgrounds are booked out months before the Christmas holiday period, often by families who reserve the same campsite every year.

The camp's chief executive David Ross told the New Zealand Herald staff were always saying they were unhappy with the offensive slogans.

"The only thing you can do to stop this is to stop them from coming in," he said.

 

Wicked Campers. Photo: Contributed.
Wicked Campers. Photo: Contributed. Contributed

FRIDAY 11.45AM: THE controversial Wicked Campers company was founded by former mechanic John Webb.

From a start up company in Brisbane, Wicked Campers has expanded over more than seven years, to where Mr Webb and his partner Leanne, who is gay and was formerly known as Liam, now have businesses in the United Kingdom and Europe, New Zealand, North America, Africa, South America and Japan.

In 2009, Mr Webb told website smallbusinessmarketing.com about how he devised the idea for Wicked Campers and some of his thoughts about the slogans that grace the vehicles.

"I went from being a mechanic to renting cars, so I earned money without having to work so hard, but I worked harder," he said.

"Then I saw that…when I was renting cars I discovered travellers.

"Then I discovered that travellers needed to sleep in something, so needed accommodation.

"And that's where I come with the idea of the cheapy vans and just went from there."

Mr Webb and Leanne have both previously told media that the slogans are meant to be fun, to make people laugh and smile.

"Not really pushing for making people think, it's more about the smiles, being happy, people smiling and that's something I'm even working on myself," Mr Webb told Our World Today in 2011.

"If I ever talk to someone who knows Wicked, it's normally about the saying on the back of a van that they're having a laugh about."

Over the years, Mr Webb said Wicked Campers had supported a number of charities including having free hire for returned servicemen and servicewomen between 2011 and 2013, and donating more than $70,000 to the Free to be Kids charity.

Topics:  backpackers byron bay vanpackers wicked campers



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