The Shmooze

Auschwitz Photo Used in Health Club Ad

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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It’s not just Haredi Jews who have offended many this past week by using — or rather, abusing — Holocaust imagery.

A news outlet in the United Arab Emirates reported that a Dubai health club put out a promotional poster with a picture of the gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau, with the tag line: “Kiss your calories goodbye.” The club, The Circuit Factory, pulled the poster after receiving complaints about it — but not until after it had gained significant exposure through Facebook and Twitter.

The club was obviously trying to get across the point that its workouts help people lose weight. “The Circuit Factory is a revolutionary new exercise concept that has just landed in Dubai…Our workouts are intense, so you smash a huge amount of calories and cut fat every time you train. We’ll help you get the body you’ve always dreamed of in the fastest possible time,” its website promises.

However, “anybody who takes any tragedy affecting human beings and turns it into a marketing stunt has a severe lack of judgment,” as a woman living in Dubai, who is of Polish ancestry and whose grandfather’s brother was killed at Auschwitz, said about the poster.

Phil Parkinson, the owner of the company, nixed the poster as soon as he was alerted to it, claiming that he had not vetted his creative team’s work in this case. “I am gutted this picture has upset people,” Parkinson said. Maybe so, but the tastelessness of this and some of the other posters in The Circuit Club’s latest marketing campaign suggests that he should have been keeping a closer eye on things.


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