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Membership Sales Up at Dubai Gym After Offensive Advertising Campaign

What do a gym and the Holocaust have in common? According to at the Circuit Factory, a gym in Dubai, they are both a great place to burn calories.

Whoa, wait a second! That’s incredibly insensitive and not funny. However, that did not stop the company’s marketing team from posting pictures of Auschwitz, a famous Nazi death camp in Poland, with the words “Kiss your calories goodbye” on their Facebook page. Around 3,000,000 people died at Auschwitz during World War II.

Obviously, many people were offended and upset when these images appeared on Facebook on Tuesday morning. One user said he was “shocked [at] the level of ignorance.” The company quickly took the images down and then made a statement on Twitter: “Apologies for the insane poster campaign that was put up this morning… The creative guy has been told where to go.”

It seems that the Circuit Factory really does regret the campaign. It appears that they have fired the creative guy who posted the pictures and have released the following statement from Phil Parkinson, who runs the company.

“I am mortified and extremely sorry and it was wrong,” Parkinson said. “I should not have put that campaign up. I am very sorry about that.”

Even though the company did take steps to apologize for the error, many advertisers and public relations experts thought it would cause some serious problems for the Circuit Factory.

“Associating your brand with human suffering as a means to secure visibility is extremely short-sighted and may have far-reaching effects,” said Eileen Wallais, a managing partner at a public relations firm in Dubai, the Portsmouth Group.

It seems that a negative advertising campaign like this would be the downfall of a young company like the Circuit Factory, which has only been in business for about seven months. However, in an unexpected turn of events, the Circuit Factory has reported that it has had an increase in bookings and visits to its social media websites after the images were released.

“A huge number [of] people have researched or Googled [it],” said Parkinson. “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 inquiries as before. It has got to the point I am nervous that I can’t cater for demand.

Wallais seems shocked that the campaign has had this effect: “They are very lucky… I’d never advise a client to go for shock tactics.”

As an advertising student myself, I think this was a very risky advertising move on the company’s behalf. It did turn out okay for them, but it will be interesting to see what long-term effects the campaign will have. Will the gym become known as an anti-semitic place or will it become known for pushing the envelope in creative ways? Only time will tell.

What do you think about this campaign? Is it a good way to create buzz or did it simply cross too many lines of human decency? Tell us what you think in the comments section below!

Also Read:

Food Companies Fight to Advertise to Children

Yoplait Pulls Ad After Eating Disorder Controversy

January 12th, 2012

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