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Photograph: Michael Coghlan/Flickr

Wicked Campers is no stranger to controversy, and right now there’s a fresh wave of public outrage over its latest slogan to go viral (“In every princess, there’s a little slut who wants to try it just once”).

I’ve been in two minds whether to even write about Wicked Campers, for two reasons. Firstly, by writing about it, I’m adding free publicity to the fire.

Secondly, given the fact that their primary customer base is foreign backpackers, they’re virtually immune to a boycott. So whilst locally 116,000 of us are busy signing petitions to have them taken off the road, Hans from Düsseldorf – the only person who actually matters to Wicked – is in their office renting a campervan, ignorant to the whole debacle.

The world of marketing and advertising is a strange beast, and it’s not up to the people behind these ideas to be the moral gatekeepers for society. They’ve got a job to do, and really, they’ve done it brilliantly. After all, in the last 10 years they’ve gone from being a Brisbane-based small business with a fleet of bomby campervans, to gaining national notoriety, and offices all over the world. If I were looking to rent a campervan, Wicked Campers would certainly come to mind.

So what’s the problem here?

Wicked Campers founder John Webb has the right to market his business in the way he sees fit. And anyway, what did we expect? Having raunchy graffiti slogans is their whole shtick – they’re called ‘Wicked’, aren’t they? They’re appealing to young backpackers on holidays, some with limited English, who care about a good price for a van.

But here’s why this is something worth writing about. It goes without saying that nobody wants a nanny state, and different things are offensive to different people. So I’ll just throw up this one thought: If it takes phrases like ‘I wouldn’t trust anything that bleeds for five days and doesn’t die’ to flog a rental van, then we need to take a long hard look at what sort of society we live in, and where we draw the line.

Let me know your thoughts at editorial@dynamicbusiness.com.au. Should business owners be able to do ‘whatever it takes’ to take a slice of the market?

Stephanie Zillman

Stephanie Zillman

Stephanie is the editor-at-large of Dynamic Business. Stephanie brings with her a passion for journalism, business, and new ideas. On her days off, you might find her reading a book on the beach.

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