Four ColombianÂ digital strategists have launched a social media campaign to correct the frequent mix-up of â€śColumbiaâ€ť and â€śColombia.â€ť They're deployingÂ Twitter, Facebook and colorful T-shirts in their effort.
â€” Colombia (@OdeColombia) February 12, 2013
Emilio Pombo told Univision that he and three friends dreamt up the campaign after getting an invite to speak at New Yorkâ€™s Social Media Week as "Columbian representatives." Fed up, the four created the Facebook page â€śItâ€™s Colombia, NOT Columbiaâ€ť to change peopleâ€™s spelling â€”Â and maybe, in the process, the countryâ€™s image abroad.
â€śItâ€™s Colombia, not Columbia! is a social movement that promotes the beginning of a change in the foreign perception of Colombia,â€ť reads a Spanish-language message on the groupâ€™s Facebook page. Unlike common stereotypes, the message explains, Colombia today â€śis the focus of large investors at the global level, thanks to its economic, social and cultural growth.â€ť
Colombiaâ€™s foreign image could use a jump-start. Despite large-scale development and big tourism campaigns, the country still sees a fraction of the visitors that flock to Brazil or Mexico. According to the English news site Colombia Reports, 1.6 million international tourists visited Colombia in 2011, the latest year for which data are available. That same year, 22.7 million people went to Mexico, which, of course, has a drug war to contend with.
â€śWhen we say weâ€™re from Colombia, Hollywood images of drugs and cocaine are the first things people talk about. We donâ€™t want to deny our past, but people should be updated about the good things happening in our country today, and that starts with spelling Colombia correctly,â€ť Pombo told NBC Latino.
So far, the message seems to have caught on. Since launching Feb. 7, the â€śItâ€™s Colombiaâ€ť page has attracted more than 10,000 likes. Regular updates include fun facts on Colombia (did you know itâ€™s a great place for golf?), and many, many photos of people wearing the campaignâ€™s bright T-shirts.
â€” Colombia (@OdeColombia) February 23, 2013