The Dubai fitness firm at the centre of a social media backlash over its use of Holocaust images in an advertising campaign has reported a rise in bookings amid the adverse publicity.
Phil Parkinson, the founder of the Circuit Factory, claimed the company had seen a surge in visits after attracting criticism for posting an image of the Auschwitz death camp with the slogan; ‘Kiss your calories goodbye.’
“A huge number people have researched or Googled… our YouTube channel has shot up, our [Facebook] group page has got an hundred extra members in minutes and we have had about five times as many enquiries as before,” he said. “It has got to the point I am nervous that I can’t cater for demand.”
But Parkinson said the seven-month-old company was deeply apologetic for the promotional campaign, which he described as “insane”.
“I am mortified and extremely sorry and it was wrong... I should not have put that campaign up. I am very upset about that,” he said.
The images were uploaded on the company’s Facebook page on Tuesday morning, but a number were later removed after a backlash erupted across social media sites. One user claimed to be "shocked@ the level of ignorance".
An estimated three million people were killed at the World War II concentration camp.
Marketing experts said the error could cost the company business in the long-term following the wave of negative publicity that followed the posting.
“They are very lucky… I’d never advise a client to go for shock tactics. You have to look at a long-term strategy,” said Eileen Wallis, managing partner at Dubai PR firm Portsmouth Group.
“Associating your brand with human suffering as a means to secure visibility is extremely short-sighted and may have far-reaching effects.”
The campaign comes weeks after a Virgin Megastores outlet in Qatar was forced to pull the Adolf Hitler's ‘Mein Kampf’ from its recommended reading shelf after a backlash on Twitter.
The retailer was blasted after a Twitter user posted a picture on the social network of the book in the store’s branch in Landmark Shopping Centre in Qatar.
Virgin Megastores said in a statement that individual stores chose the books promoted on recommended reading shelves, but said Mein Kampf had been removed from the section.