Colombian social media campaign wants you to stop misspelling their country’s name

Four Colombian digital strategists have launched a social media campaign to correct the frequent mix-up of “Columbia” and “Colombia.” They're deploying Twitter, Facebook and colorful T-shirts in their effort.

Emilio Pombo told Univision that he and three friends dreamt up the campaign after getting an invite to speak at New York’s Social Media Week as "Columbian representatives." Fed up, the four created the Facebook page “It’s Colombia, NOT Columbia” to change people’s spelling — and maybe, in the process, the country’s image abroad.

“It’s Colombia, not Columbia! is a social movement that promotes the beginning of a change in the foreign perception of Colombia,” reads a Spanish-language message on the group’s Facebook page. Unlike common stereotypes, the message explains, Colombia today “is the focus of large investors at the global level, thanks to its economic, social and cultural growth.”

Colombia’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.

“When we say we’re from Colombia, Hollywood images of drugs and cocaine are the first things people talk about. We don’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,” Pombo told NBC Latino.

So far, the message seems to have caught on. Since launching Feb. 7, the “It’s Colombia” page has attracted more than 10,000 likes. Regular updates include fun facts on Colombia (did you know it’s a great place for golf?), and many, many photos of people wearing the campaign’s bright T-shirts.

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