Many post-holidays fitness campaigns feature buffed and bronzed babes frolicking on the beach, reminding us that bikini and swimsuit season is fast approaching and time to shed unwanted pounds.
A Dubai gym and fitness center, however, took a slightly different approach by promoting an ad campaign using Auschwitz as the promotion for weight loss.
Circuit Factory gym owner Phil Parkinson, 32, posted the controversial ad, to the gym's Facebook page, displaying a set of railroad tracks leading to Auschwitz. Below, a caption read Kiss your calories goodbye, a blatant reference to the 1.3 million people murdered by Nazis in 1942-1944.
Parkinson said the ad was meant to compare weight loss at Circuit Factory to a calorie concentration camp.
The idea of the campaign isn't to upset anybody, he said. The way branding works is ... you want people talking about your business. We want them talking about us, but we don't want people to take offence at it.
The Auschwitz ad sparked outrage as the campaign went viral, prompting Parkinson to apologize.
Apologies for the insane poster campaign that was put up this morning. The creative guy has been told where to go, Parkinson tweeted.
Parkinson said that while he is sorry for the ad, the publicity has helped his business,
A huge number people have researched or Googled ... our YouTube channel has shot up, our group page has got an hundred extra members in minutes and we have had about five times as many enquiries as before, Parkinson told arabianbusiness.com. It has got to the point I am nervous that I can't cater for demand.
In light of his apology The Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman said the league accepted his apology in an official statement.
We are increasingly troubled by both the ignorance and mindset of a generation that appears to be so distant from a basic understanding of the Holocaust that it seems acceptable to use this horrific tragedy as a gimmick to bring attention to promoting losing weight, Foxman said. What do we have to do to educate and impart to current and future generations the perils of bigotry, racism, discrimination and anti-Semitism?
The Holocaust ad in addition to the 10 others posted on Facebook were removed and replaced with a new image that read: Our values include raising the quality of people's lives, through physical exercise. Not cruelty or suffering. We made a big mistake and we are truly sorry.