The founder of The Circuit Factory gym in Dubai made an egregious marketing gaffe when he posted a black and white photo of the train tracks to Auschwitz under the tag line “Kiss your calories goodbye” on the gym’s Facebook page Tuesday.
The ad immediately elicited (what should have been an expected) slew of negative comments on Facebook and Twitter.
Hours later, founder Phil Parkinson pulled the photo and apologized. Parkinson, 32, tweeted: “Apologies for the insane poster campaign that was put up this morning. The creative guy has been told where to go.”
In The National, Parkinson explained that he had intended to use the Holocaust to advertise how much weight gym goers could lose at The Circuit Factory’s exercise classes, which he likened to “a calorie concentration camp.“
The Nazis murdered an estimated 1.3 million people between 1942 and 1944 in Auschwitz II-Birkenau, the extermination camp featured in the marketing ploy.
The Holocaust has been referenced in various, often short-lived, promotions.
In 2007, Bell Canada pulled advertisements that unintentionally featured a model sporting a button that read “Belsen was a Gas” — a reference to a Sex Pistols song about the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen.
Greenpeace drummed up controversy when the Italian branch of Saatchi & Saatchi released a print campaign that likened endangered whales to prisoners of death camps, and Sportswear firm Umbro stopped manufacturing the Zyklon sneaker following protests from Jewish groups. Zyklon was the name of the gas that Nazis used to kill prisoners in concentration camps.
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