NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Using Auschwitz as part of your ad campaign probably doesn’t seem like a good idea to most.

Apparently it did to The Circuit Factory gym in Dubai.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, the founder of the gym posted 10 photos of a new ad campaign to the gym’s Facebook page. One of the ads included an image of the railroad leading to the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp with the slogan “Kiss Your Calories Goodbye.”

The image was not well received, and started getting Tweeted around the web.

Twitter user Alison Lehr posted the image, describing it as “The circuit factory epic fail ad. Apparently you lost your brain while trying to lose weight.”

New Yorkers seemed equally miffed.

“My wife’s relatives — she lost people there during the war. How can you even associate one thing with the other. It’s just unacceptable, really unacceptable,” Alan Singer of Midtown told CBS 2’s Emily Smith.

Companies hire ad agencies all of the time to push the envelope. You see it in Times Square every day, but to use human suffering to promote your brand? That’s taking it to a whole new level.

Advertising campaign and public relations specialist Tom Cunningham told CBS 2’s Smith it’s the shock factor gone terribly wrong.

“There’s a lot of people in advertising who think any notoriety, any publicity is going to be good. But to use this image or message which is horrible is inappropriate,” Cunningham said.

In different ad campaigns The Circuit Factory has used bulimia to try to garner attention, but this ad seems to establish a new low.

The Circuit Factory founder Phil Parkinson apologized and took the photo down, Tweeting “Apologies for the insane poster campaign that was put up this morning. The creative guy has been told where to go.”

The gym issued this statement: “We made a stupid mistake and we deeply regret the upset that it has caused to so many people. We recognise that this was a completely tasteless advert and we removed it shortly after it was posted online. The creative guy will not be used again. As a small gesture of our remorse, we are donating money earned this weekend to a fund that helps people associated with the holocaust. We have also changed our Facebook Fan and Group page profile pictures to the poster attached and will leave it online for the next 7 days. These are not empty words; we are truly sorry.”

The ADL welcomed the apology. National Director Abraham Foxman said in a statement the ad raises some troubling questions.

“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?”

After the ad was taken down, the Circuit Factory’s Facebook page put up a new image, this one reading: “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.”

Circuit Factory Apology (credit: Circuit Factory)

That said, the ad may not have been bad for the company’s business. Parkinson reportedly told that the ad — and it’s backlash — prompted a huge amount of interest in his gym.

“A huge number people have researched or Googled… 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,” Parkinson told the website. “It has got to the point I am nervous that I can’t cater for demand.”

What do you make of the ad? Sound off in our comments section.

Comments (30)
  1. Deborah Jeffries says:

    I can’t speak for other countries, but I have seen blatant anti-semitism for example a glass cleaner commercial with two mocking bird with Yiddish accents.

    I noticed after a few weeks the Yiddish accents were changed I’m sure due to complaints. It certainly made me angry.

    Not surprising in a country like America where almost every commercial is sexualized and exploits women.

    Something as simple as a chocolate bar they have to make the woman eating eat seem like she’s in ecstasy, moaning etc.

    No one should be exploited or degraded to sell anything.

  2. Lou Bator says:

    Those moslems are so-oooo funny! The mahounds in dubai don’t care one bit.

  3. Deborah Jeffries says:

    There is nothing funny about the killing machine of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

    Anti-semitism in advertising here while not as shocking, does exist.

    Let’s not forget the billboard Vodka Ad which read Christmas quality at Hanukkah prices.

    After a public outrage, it was taken down.

    Intolerance is never chic.



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  5. Muslim Astronauts says:

    What are the Muslim Astronauts doing about this? Everyone is clinging to Earth as though it’s a big security blanket….sucking their big thumbs.

  6. rex dart eskimo spy says:

    According to the brochure, they gym will send a complimentary box car to pick you up.

  7. Baba Looey says:

    I think this is leading to a new performing arts genre: holocaust theatre

  8. Meme Meyagi says:

    if mooslime terrorists want to go to auscwits, who are you to stop them???

  9. Moody Rudy says:

    Shame on wealthy Arab Dubai ,perhaps we can show decapitations
    that they have done to their enemies as a way to lose weight?

  10. brooklyn4ever says:

    Jagdish, just how is this “hilarious” as you sp state? It’s about as funny as terminal cancer.

  11. Max says:

    He accomplished his goal of getting major publicity for his establishment.That is all he wanted and he knew what he was doing was wrong but chose to do it anyway for the publicity
    Very cunning but a complete and utter disgusting human being

  12. DON'T Sit in THE SAUNA says:

    Whatever you do, I don’t advise sitting in their new ZUCLON B Sauna room!!

    1. Wrong its the Shower to worry about says:

      You mean the shower room, Don’t yoy?

  13. Roger Cotton says:

    I hope his apology is sincere and this is a once in a lifetime error.

  14. Ellen says:

    Maybe they should start looking at the History Channel for a change and see what exactly concentration camps were really all about. It wasn’t about losing weight that’s for sure, it was about Hitler trying to wipeout all the Jewish people. You know. Germany and the master race. bunch of ignorant and stupid people running adds.

    1. Chris says:

      It was not JUST Jews, but an entire slew of people, and it wasn’t JUST Hitler.

  15. techno says:

    The gym isn’t in the US, and the Ad isn’t in the US.. so WHO THE HELL CARES!!!

    1. ENGINEER says:

      The Holocaust didn’t take place in the US either, but we ALL better care.

  16. David Heath says:

    This is terrible, but living in China for 8 years I’ve seen worse. Nazi flags sold alongside national flags at the Olympics. Cartoon Hitlers promoting air conditioning. Women kitted out in SS uniforms promoting catalogues. A few of them I saved and put on my site:

    1. Meme Meyagi says:

      good website

  17. franz liebkin says:


  18. jagdish says:

    Nothing funny about Auschwitz. But fact that the “Auschwitz experience” would increase membership is hillarious.

  19. Brooklyn Cyclone says:

    This was no accident. Vile as it is, I’m sure the Dubai crowd loved it. The gym executives know their target audience well.

  20. val says:

    The ad exec is only partially to blame. Someone at the company (gym) had to approve these ads and then post them to their Facebook page. Someone young and foolish. You know what they say, if you don’t learn from history it is bound to repeat itself. The Holocaust is one bit of history that should NEVER be forgotten or made light of! (Unfortunately, genocide persists in other parts of the world…)

  21. Omar says:

    This is what happens when people only care about shock value vs an actual message. Any idiot can surf the net for Auschwitz and learn about its history before using that image but clearly that ad exec didn’t care enough to take 5 minutes to do that.

  22. None Of Your Business says:

    Only a brain-dead moron with no functioning brain cells whatsoever could somehow equate a Nazi concentration camp with losing weight.

    1. None Of Your Business says:

      Further elaboration: The inmates of those concentration camps did lose weight–through starvation and torture. So that’s what you use in an ad campaign for a gym promoting weight loss? That advertising genius really needs to re-think things.

    2. Debbie Deal McGee says:

      I am sorry cannot ‘fix’ this. I cannot imagine the pain this has created to people who lost loved ones, friends, acquaintances In the Holocaust. I would never have anything to do with this gym. Walking, running, jumping rope are all free activities. Companies need to be responsible for the people they hire. Oppps! You didn’t “know” this guy did this? You let this be published w/out giving the “ok?” I don’t think so. Too little, too late:(

  23. RoyAllen says:

    Who’s the genius Ad Exec who came up with that one,he needs a history lesson,and some sensitivity training……………………..idiot!

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