One German Spa's Advertising Strategy: Just Add Kristallnacht

A blog about business and economics.
Nov. 5 2013 5:18 PM

One German Spa's Advertising Strategy: Just Add Kristallnacht

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Using Kristallnacht to sell spa treatments is a bad idea.

Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images

Matthew Yglesias is on vacation.

Using an infamous atrocity as a marketing peg never works. Holidays? Of course. What would Presidents’ Day be without discounted mattress sales? But, days commemorating tragic and scarring events are best left alone. 

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This time, the offending company is a German health spa, which suggested on its website that would-be customers come and enjoy a “long romantic Kristall-nacht” at the spa on—of all days—the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht. The day commemorates the Nov. 9, 1938 Kristallnacht, or “the night of broken glass,” marking a brutal Nazi wave of violence against German Jews that targeted Jewish businesses, ransacked Jewish homes, and resulted in the burning of synagogues.

The spa denies that the use of the word was intentional and apologized for the ad on its Facebook page. The owners issued a statement on Monday, the Jewish Daily Forward reports, that “apologized for their ‘insensitive naming of this event,’ which was ‘extremely inappropriate.’ They explained that they frequently tag part of their name, ‘Kristall,’ onto their events.” The spa is called Kristall Sauna-Wellnesspark. But whether or not the timing of the ad was intentional, the disastrous attempt at wordplay is much harder to explain away.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

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