The ad, which appeared on the city streets on March 23 said: “Swimming is not a luxury; it is what you need to have a healthy and safe child.”
It also said that a child needs nine months to be born, two minutes to get lost and just one minute to drown. Right next to this highly instructive information was the photograph of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, whose body washed ashore on a Turkish beach last year after his Syrian Kurdish parents had tried and failed to move to Europe on their own.
A commentary ran by the Stupid Advertisers website described the ad as “arguably the most idiotic one we ever saw.”
According to the fitness club’s representative, quoted by Folha de São Paulo newspaper, the advertisers had wanted to attract public attention to the safety of children in water.
“After the tragic drowning of a child who lived right next to our waterpark we decided to do something to attract the people’s attention to this problem,” the rep said.
“We tried to show that war is not the only place children die in. Drowning is the second biggest cause of child mortality in Brazil, but people rarely talk about this serious problem. The response to this ad went viral and we realize that we could have done better, but we still tried to do something about this.
He appealed to “everyone capable of doing something to spread this information to save lives.”
“It has never been our intention to show any disrespect for anyone so we removed the controversial photo as soon as we received this negative feedback,” the official said.