Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Andrew and Jo Roper, of Reading, hired the campervan from rental company Wicked to drive from northern Queensland to Sydney.However, while the Ropers were enjoying their holiday, the slogan sparked fierce controversy. Unbeknownst to the couple, it was branded racist by Queensland premier Anna Bligh and Australia's Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) attempted to order the van off the road. The pair only learned of the furore when a fellow tourist informed them that the van was on the front page of the Cairns Post newspaper. "We were out at a waterfall and someone said to us, 'Do you realise you're on the front page?' We had no idea," Mrs Roper told the Brisbane Times. The pair, both aged 25, said they were allocated the van by Wicked, but would have chosen it if given the chance. Mrs Roper said: "It made us chuckle and it's quite relevant, particularly in Australia" where there is a strong anti-whaling sentiment. "If Japanese people are offended they should think about why it's being written. It's there to start debate about what's happening to the whales." The Ropers' campervan is not the first Wicked vehicle to draw the attention of the authorities. Two other campers have been confiscated after the ASB deemed their slogans - "Women are like banks - once you withdraw you lose interest" and "If God was a woman, sperm would taste like chocolate" - misogynistic and demeaning to women.
The Ropers agreed that some Wicked van slogans were offensive, but said theirs "actually had some thought behind it". The pair found most other motorists supported the slogan. However, Mrs Roper said she doubted the message would have received as much attention if it was written about England. She said: "We joked to each other that if fox hunting was still legal in England, they would probably have 'Save a fox, shoot a Pom' written on the side, and no one would complain about that."

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