David Fisher is a senior reporter for the NZ Herald.

Crude vans in ministers' crosshairs

Bans and fines proposed to tackle slogans.
Wicked Campers may find its vans banned from public camping grounds if ministers have their way.
Wicked Campers may find its vans banned from public camping grounds if ministers have their way.

Government ministers are teaming up to crack down on campervan company Wicked Campers and its offensive slogans.

Associate Tourism Minister Paula Bennett is leading the charge and told the Herald on Sunday: "I'm determined to do something about it."

Several ministers have been involved this week in trying to find a way to make Wicked Campers stop using the slogans, which have sparked a string of complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority.

READ MORE: Wicked Campers - 100% offensive

Possible options considered include banning Wicked Campers' vans from public camping grounds, referring the company to the chief censor and even using park rangers to fine people driving the vans.

Wicked Campers has made a name for itself in New Zealand and Australia with slogans on the rear of its rental campers including expletives or derogatory comments about women.

Phrases have included:

"In every princess there is a little slut who wants to try it just once."

"Fat chicks are harder to kidnap."

"A man would be interested in a woman's mind if it bounced gently as she walked."

"Your thighs won't touch if my head's between them."

Wicked Campers has been found to have breached advertising standards 15 times in five years.

In almost all of its complaints, the company has not engaged with the Advertising Standards Authority process.

Bennett, Minister for Women Louise Upston and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry each said they believed the slogans on the vans targetted women.

Bennett said she had spoken with Justice Minister Amy Adams about extending the Advertising Standards Authority's powers to rein in those found to have breached standards.

Other options included the chief censor considering the slogans on the vans as a publication, which carried the possibility of a $15,000 fine for each occurrence.

"Most of [the slogans] I find offensive as a woman, as a mother and as a grandmother ... and I don't easily offend," Bennett said.

Barry said bylaws in Queenstown could cost tourists $300 each time if caught driving a van with an offensive slogan.

She said Department of Conservation rangers would be available to help council staff target the campervans.

She believed the slogans were "misogynist" and "demeaning".

"I hoped that kind of sleazy, sexist rubbish had been left behind us." She believed some of the illustrations in combination with the slogans were "sending a message of violence towards women".

Whangarei and Queenstown councils have raised the possibility of fining drivers.

Upston, also Associate Local Government Minister, said Local Government New Zealand was investigating offering legal support to councils looking to tackle the issue.

The company was repeatedly approached for comment by the Herald on Sunday without success.

A petition in Australia in 2014 succeeded in having the company withdraw one of its slogans. The following year, owner John Webb released a statement saying it had hired a "Moral Monkey Squad [to satisfy the] humour-inept, self-righteous moral majority."

- Herald on Sunday

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