distasteful: The campaign by a Dubai hotel has left many residents horrified Image Credit: Supplied photo

DUBAI: A distasteful and sickening campaign. That’s how many residents here described a Dubai hotel’s promotion showing jolly St Nick kidnapped and in chains.

The hotel running the campaign stated: “[We] kidnapped Santa and we ain’t letting him go... unless you make a festive booking soon, he’s not coming back.” A YouTube video which is part of the campaign shows ‘Saint Nick’ saying: “If they [hotel outlets] fill up on time, they say they’ll release me on the 24th… just think of all the kiddies and the grannies.”

The hotel also sent out ransom notes with Santa’s hat as proof they have him.

But Dubai residents are not amused. “Santa Claus is a universal icon representing Father Christmas to children in most parts of the world,” said a Mexican resident. “I think they ran out of ideas. It’s an unfortunate and offensive trick to grab attention.”

Mustafa Mahdi, head of publication relations at MasterMind Business Consultancy, said “It is very important to consider all factors that can impact the brand as a result of the publicity stunt, which can sometimes backfire.”

An Indian publicist who wished anonymity said: “They say it’s a marketing campaign. To me, it’s just sickening.”

Christian church leaders are neither amused nor happy. “How people find it will depend on how their children react to it,” said Rev. Canon Stephen Wright, chaplain of Anglican Christ Church in Jebel Ali. “It depends on whom this campaign is aimed at, really.”