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Wed 4 Jan 2012 12:50 PM

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Dubai gym in Holocaust furore fires ad creator

Circuit Factory sparks outrage by using Auschwitz images in ad campaign

Dubai gym in Holocaust furore fires ad creator
The Circuit Factory runs fitness classes in Dubai

The founder of a Dubai-based fitness firm said he had ditched his marketing team after the company spurred outraged by using images of a notorious Nazi concentration camp in advertising campaign.

The Circuit Factory was blasted by users on social media sites Twitter and Facebook after posting an image of the Auschwitz death camp with the slogan; ‘Kiss your calories goodbye.’

An estimated three million people were killed at the World War II concentration camp.

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".

“Apologies for the insane poster campaign that was put up this morning... If it caused offense it was not our intention,” said Phil Parkinson, who runs the Al Quoz-based Circuit Factory.

“If it caused offense it was not our intention. I can't really do much more than apologise about this. I wish I could, but I can't.”

The company “won't be using the creative guy” behind the advertising campaign again, he said.

Marketing experts said the error could cost the company business following the wave of negative publicity that has followed the posting.

“Associating your brand with human suffering as a means to secure visibility is extremely short-sighted and may have far-reaching effects, including alienating both existing and potential customers,” said Eileen Wallis, managing partner at Dubai-based PR firm the Portsmouth Group.

Alexander McNabb, director of Spot On PR in Dubai and a founding member of the Middle East Public Relations Association (MEPRA), said it was a myth that all publicity was good publicity.

“In the online world you are talking to a global community so it is always possible to offend someone, somewhere. Using Auschwitz to promote weight loss, that is a most extraordinary lapse in judgement,” he said. “I would have thought that people would choose to stay away from a brand that behaves like this, especially if it did so consistently.”

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.

Astonished how that slipped through 7 years ago

Kiss your reputation goodbye!

Slightly annoyed 7 years ago

"I can't really do much more than apologise about this. I wish I could, but I can't.”

Well Phil, if you're reading this there is......by making a very large public donation to one of the related/relevant charities. Also from what I can tell your company is a SME, so you would/should have had final say in what is/isn't published/advertised. Take it like a man......and kiss your business goodbye!!!

Jewface 7 years ago

Phil creates these images himself, there is no creative team. You think a professional would do this kind of sick joke? My wife is Jewish and she lost members of her family during the Nazi reign. Just disgusting.

procan 7 years ago

I am not Jewish either but it breaks my heart to see this type of thing still raising its ugly head in 2012.

Mark 7 years ago

Funny - no worries man, for a minute I thought it was about what Israel does to the Arab Palestinians on a daily basis.

Rusty 7 years ago

Hi, just wanna know how many of you annoyed people got annoyed over what Israel did to the innocent people in their occupied land?
Wake up - we are in a new century and can't keep asking for donations to people who died last century, isn't it enough what the Germans have been paying till now and the next million years for something their grandparents did?

Clevatreva 7 years ago

"If it caused offense it was not our intention,” said Phil.

If you read his other blogs on his site, you will quickly realise this was exactly what he was trying to do. My guess he was trying to push the boundaries of acceptability and he overstepped. I'm saying "he" because I doubt very much if the "creative team" actually exists. If they do, then they are the most stupid marketing people on earth.

It will be interesting to see if he still in business in three months time.

alarmbell 7 years ago

Those of you commenting outside uae, freedom of speech dont you think?

Brian 7 years ago

To all those who bring up the whole “Israel does the same thing to the Arabs” Yes you are right in every possible way but at the same time using pictures of Jews suffering as part of a lose weight campaign or fitness regime is just disgustingly wrong, it’s not about Jews Muslims or Arabs. Phil Parkinson, who runs the Al Quoz-based Circuit Factory didn’t know that his fabulous creative team were working on something as disgusting as that, didn’t he approve it before it was published?

Expat 123 7 years ago

What does this have to do with the topic at hand?! Seriously?! That's a totally different subject, in no culture or society is what "Phil" did acceptable, get a grip on reality buddy.