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Thu 5 Jan 2012 08:59 AM

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Dubai gym reports boost from Holocaust ad backlash

Circuit Factory issues apology for using Nazi death camp to plug advert campaign

Dubai gym reports boost from Holocaust ad backlash
The Circuit Factory runs fitness classes in Dubai

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.

Nancy 7 years ago

This is outrageous. In today's media-crazy world, while it is true that bad publicity can end up being good news, it appears that new business will surely come on the back of this heinous, perhaps even deliberate campaign. It speaks volumes about the nature of this establishment and its clientele.

And 7 years ago

other than media and publicity, especially with Virgin story, people in this part of the world are fed up of being asked to respect others' emotions while they are the least respected world-wide..

bitters 7 years ago

Parkinson was not at all sincere in his 'I shouldn't have done that' but then he let it run seven months..

I'm not Jewish, but the abuse of any people based on race or religion is wrong..Humans are becoming more like wild animals in their behavior..civilization is dying...and I'm glad I'm old..

Markj 7 years ago I know about this Circuit Factory fitness center. I'd never heard of them before. Like it or not, they did get their name out there.

Jake 7 years ago

I'd say, Mission Accomplished!

Who here really things this was a mishap?

JimBo 7 years ago

Couldn't agree with you more nancy, just goes to show how bad ppl in this world can be.

RaOne 7 years ago

No sensible Muslims ever supported the tremendous massacre of Jews in Europe.

Media creativity is one thing and mocking misfortune of others is another...a very bad in taste and judgement.

Maybe this gym should be made to pay a huge fine, that way whatever gain they have made with such publicity would be nullified and also deter any other business from taking similar road to fame.

mmaranter 7 years ago

There is a an entire side of this story that most readers are forgetting about... It's the New Year and resolutions are still fresh. Naturally, the Circuit Factory is going to have a "surge" in numbers. Factually speaking, most fitness centres normally do very well around January and February. I'm sure the negative publicity didn't hurt them as it people looking to get fit narrow down the search for fitness centres. Readers may have heard of the Circuit Factory because of this story, but may have not grasped the entire story completely. I think most consumers will stay away from a company that tends to disregard the feelings of its consumers as well as associating your brand with suffering.

Let's see where this company is in the next couple of months. I don't foresee good things from them.