A van rental company in New Zealand called Wicked Campers has annoyed some New Zealanders by painting some obnoxious slogans on its vehicles. They’ve painted slogans on their vans “Drink ’till she’s pretty” and “I tried to drown my sorrows, but I can’t get my wife to go swimming.” There’s one of an egg having sex with a chicken with “who came first” on the side of the van. There’s another one of Snow White smoking a crack pipe. Yeah, seriously, a crack pipe.
(I’ve actually seen some goofy campers painted up like this up in Canada, but they weren’t what I would call offensive. I loved this Primus van I saw in Banff a few years ago.)
Well, here’s the one that pissed me off: A slogan that says, “Smoking is cool.” And it shows some smiling guy smoking two cigarettes. That just left me thinking, “WTH, man!” I mean, the crack pipe one was bad enough, I can’t imagine there’s much of a crack epidemic in New Zealand, but why the hell would they have a van promoting cigarette smoking? For free?
Anyway, these campers are apparently hugely controversial in New Zealand and Australia. The Lonely Planet Travel Guide has erased the company from its publications, and a major NZ fuel vendor Z Energy is contemplating refusing to sell gasoline to anyone driving one of the campers. I know if I rented one of these things, I would want a big “Smoking is Cool!” on the side of my camper! Christ.
Probably the best approach are these sorts of boycotts. You could argue that being controversial gets them attention and attention is making them money, but when you’re getting kicked out of travel guides and facing fuel vendor boycotts, maybe you’ve taken the schtick too far. You can still have goofy and silly paintings on your campers without going to such extremes to offend.
(Thanks to Classical Gas for the scoop on this story!)
Australia is attempting to force cigarette companies in that country to have utterly, entirely plain cigarette packages, with no artwork, no logos, no graphics whatsoever, except for graphic images of lung cancer and other diseases caused by cigarette smoking.
The Australian Senate passed a bill to require the plain packages. The Australian House is expected to approve the bill, as well, requiring plain packaging by next year. Tobacco companies are expected to file lawsuits. New Zealand is considering similar legislation.
In the U.S., these graphic warnings have been put on hold. A U.S. District Court judge issued an injunction stopping the FDA from requiring graphic warnings, saying they violated tobacco companies’ First Amendment rights by forcing them to advocate for something they didn’t want to advocate.
Someone showed me a pack of French cigarettes the other day with a pretty gross graphic warning of a rotting mouth. Their point was smokers really aren’t going to pay attention. My attitude is the vast majority of smokers probably don’t care about the warnings — I mean if they’re smoking, they’re probably already addicted to the nicotine. But, maybe, maybe, maybe, just maybe, it will put an inkling in a few smokers’ minds that, “Wow, I really need to quit,” and maybe, maybe, maybe, it will discourage some kids from beginning. Who knows? I can hear the nanny-state argument on this one.
In some countries like New Zealand, Australia and Canada, the warning labels on cigarettes have become increasingly graphic to discourage smokers (In the U.S., Big Tobacco has actually sued over graphic warning labels, saying, get this, they make smokers “depressed.” I can’t make this shit up.
In New Zealand, to counteract the graphic warning, British American Tobacco came up with this invention to cover up the graphic warnings so smokers don’t have to look at it. It’s like some kind of Velcro band that goes around the cigarette pack literally to hide it. Oh, brother. I wonder how many people will actually buy it? What a bunch of drongos BAT are, trying to circumvent the law.