A gym in Dubai has apologized after releasing an advertisement featuring an image from a German concentration camp to motivate clients to lose weight.
The Circuit Factory Gym published the image of the Auschwitz concentration camp with the phrase "Kiss Your Calories Goodbye" on its Facebook page, but soon took down the post amid a whirlwind of backlash from users, according to CBS New York.
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Gym founder Phil Parkinson apologized to a number of users who Tweeted angry remarks concerning the image and ensured followers that the designer is no longer with the company.
However, Parkinson told Arabian Business News that he noticed an immediate increase in traffic to the gym's website, Facebook page and YouTube channel.
"It has got to the point I am nervous that I can't cater for demand," he told the paper.
But a public relations representative said the long-term consequences of the controversial ad could be yet to come.
"Associating your brand with human suffering as a means to secure visibility is extremely short-sighted and may have far-reaching effects," Eileen Wallis, managing partner at a Dubai public relations firm, told Arabian Business News.
The Anti-Defamation League has accepted Parkinson's apology but denounced the "mindset of a generation that appears to be so distant from a basic understanding of the Holocaust" to deem the ad acceptable to use in the first place, the International Business Times reports.
Still, some are questioning whether the shock-factor of the advertisement was what the marketing team was after from the beginning.
"It's a PR trick, people...The only people that are stupid are the ones that fall for this obvious stunt," The Media Line quoted a commenter as stating.