PM: Wicked Campers 'beyond edgy and downright offensive'

An example of a Wicked Campers van slogan (file)
An example of a Wicked Campers van slogan (file)

The Prime Minister has thrown his support behind moves to get a campervan hire company to stop displaying offensive slogans on its vehicles.

Wicked Campers has had more complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority upheld than notoriously edgy Hell Pizza, and no fewer than three Government ministers looking into how they can put a stop to the Australian company's antics.

Minister for Women Louise Upston has written to the company; Conservation Minister Maggie Barry is trying to get them banned from Department of Conservation campgrounds; and Associate Tourism Minister Paula Bennett, leading the charge, says she's "determined to do something about it".

"There's quite a big difference between humour and being over the line," John Key said on the Paul Henry programme this morning.

"Lots of companies use humour as part of what they do, and some of it's actually quite amusing...some of this is way beyond edgy and downright offensive."

The slogans, spraypainted in large capital letters across the backs and sides of the vans, include: "A man would be interested in a woman's mind if it bounced gently as she walked" and "I've often wanted to drown my troubles, but I can't get my wife to go swimming".

Many of the vans bear slogans derogatory towards women, breaching advertising standards rules. Some campgrounds have decided to stop letting in anyone driving Wicked Campers vans until they've covered up the offending words, reports the New Zealand Herald.

One proposed plan is to hit the company's bottom line -- local councils and DoC could issue fines to drivers of Wicked Campers vans, discouraging people from hiring them.

Ms Bennett has also proposed getting the chief censor involved -- if the slogans were deemed obscene, drivers could be fined up to $15,000 and even jailed.

Mr Key says the Government isn't the fun police.

"You've also got people actually who are renting the vehicles, covering up the slogans. You'd have to say, do you want to drive around in a car that says some of the things these things say?"

The company's owners seldom commented on the controversial slogans, but last year joked they had hired monkeys to scream when they saw something offensive written on the vans, to satisfy "the whims and wishes of the humour-inept, self-righteous moral majority while wearing little monkey tuxedos and funny hats".