Dubai gym owner apologises for 'offensive' YouTube ad
The owner of a fitness gym that used images of a Nazi concentration camp last year has apologised for another controversial advertisement put up earlier in the week.
Dubai-based Circuit Factory posted the explicit video, which suggested lack of exercise could make a woman less desirable to her partner and, in turn, change his sexual orientation, on its website and YouTube to launch its new campaign: Bent: Getting Our Priority Straight.
“While The Circuit Factory believes in freedom of expression, we are also a part of the community here in Dubai,” said Phil Parkinson. “We are a weight loss company first and foremost, and expressing ourselves creatively is secondary to this. Unnecessary controversy does not help people lose weight.
“It’s not our desire to cause offense or be disruptive. We have removed the offending video and offer our apologies to anyone we have upset."
Before removing the video Circuit Factory on Facebook defended its right to distribute the video.
“Freedom is a big part of The Circuit Factory’s culture. We aren’t advocating anything with our video. It’s just us being ridiculous. We don’t take ourselves that seriously. We believe in freedom, and our video is an expression of that.”
However the gym did remove the comment option on the YouTube video after negative posts which included: “This campaign video is tasteless and repugnant on so many levels – women need to get in shape to pleasure their men, or else men will “develop” an attraction towards their own sex??”
The company also began to remove disapproving posts on its Facebook account such as “It was homophobic ...! What did u expect, an Oscar?!”
Khaled Akbik, 34, a former Circuit Factory member, said he was outraged and disgusted after watching the 12-minute video and filed a report with Dubai Police.
UAE lawyers said Mr Akbik was in his right to go to the police, as any member of the community had a right to lodge a complaint and the advertisement can be considered committing a deliberate and public act of indecency and breaching modesty punishable by six-months in prison.
Tweets continued to weigh in on the video such as @FAceMiddleEast’s “Surprised at the stupidity of it all and why someone would want to put their business on the line like that,” and @lou_bear’s “what ad company could possibly think that would entice people to join? All pub is NOT good pub.”
Some tweets disagreed with the criticism with @AbuJazz writing “Why should be collective job of society to determine how circuit factory (or other) do their ads? Maybe they cater to 2 percent and are happy that way.”
Tatiana Djabulu, 27, a current member of the gym, agreed with these views saying “I don’t see it as an offensive video and it only motivates, encourages and pushes me.”
She said she has seen great results from taking up Circuit Factory’s challenges.
“Dubai is a liberal place with many liberal pockets so I think the play of humour makes it a smart and intelligent and acceptable video.”
Published: August 15, 2013 04:00 AM