There’s no such thing as bad publicity, unless that publicity is actors dressed as ISIS fighters running into a mall shouting while waving (fake) guns and swords in people's faces.
That’s what happened in Iran on Monday, when actors, one of whom was on horseback, “stormed” the Kourosh shopping centre in Tehran to promote the Iranian film Damascus Time.
Video and pictures posted online showed shocked shoppers staring at the men as they stomped about and threw fast food and candy around.
While many shoppers just stood by and filmed them on their cellphones, others walked nervously away, while screaming can also be heard in the videos.
Another video posted online showed a man apparently shouting at the actors for scaring people in the mall. Last June, ISIS launched a terror attack in Iran, killing 17 people in shootings at the country's parliament building and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Many people criticized the mall stunt online, including writers and journalists with connections to Iran.
Damascus Time tells the story of two Iranian pilots on a humanitarian relief mission to Syria to save a city surrounded by ISIS fighters. The film’s director, Ebrahim Hatamikia, apologized for the publicity stunt on Instagram.
To the marketing team of Damascus Time: I've seen you do incredible work day and night over the past few months; but this demonstration was not worthy of Damascus Time. It's left a really bad taste in my mouth.
My expectation was that a man with a red beard would be standing outside of the Kourosh complex for people to take pictures with him. No horses, no crowds, no screaming. And even then I didn't imagine it would be inside the complex; I was completely unaware of this.
To those who were hurt and offended by this act — including the shop owners of the complex — if I have upset you or caused distress, please forgive me and accept my sincerest apologies.