Property firm stands by provocative Hitler ad

DUBAI - Dubai-based company Conqueror Real Estate has stood by its controversial decision to use an image of Adolf Hitler in a national newspaper campaign in the United Arab Emirates.

The ad, which places a picture of the Nazi dictator next to the tagline "Conqueror, The world is yours", ran in the national newspaper Gulf News yesterday and provoked a string of complaints.

But David Dakak, general manager of Conqueror Real Estate, said the ad had produced the desired effect and was part of the company's marketing strategy to provoke a response.

Dakak said: "I'm making business, I don't have any political opinion. He's a famous person -- bad or good, I don't care -- and I want to attract the attention of readers. And yesterday we had a lot of response. We had complaints, but it was one of the busiest days of the year too, so it has an affect."

The Hitler ad was a one-off, as different figures appear in the company's advertising every day, but more controversy may be around the corner as former USSR dictator Joseph Stalin is also due to make his advertising debut in the near future. More respected figures such as Britain's victorious Second World War Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, and the first man in space, Russian, Yuri Gagarin, will also appear.

This is not the first time the real estate firm has caused uproar. Earlier this year it received an official complaint from the Indian embassy for using an image of Mahatma Gandhi and upsetting the large Indian community in the UAE.

Asked whether he was worried about associating his company with two of history's most despised figures, Dakak said: "We don't want the readers to get bored of our ads, so sometimes we use shocking ads. That's our policy. To attract attention."

Causing a controversy is a marketing ploy that can work spectacularly well, or backfire spectacularly. Earlier this year Dr Martens fired Saatchi & Saatchi for running ads that featured dead rock stars Kurt Cobain and Sid Vicious wearing the brand's boots in heaven.

Conqueror Real East is a commercial real estate company and is part of the Target Group.