The Team Behind "It's Colombia, NOT Columbia"
Congo, Puerto Rico, Columbia?
Francisco Botero's Gorditos Seem To Agree
Colombian hips vs. Columbian hips
A message to Sir Richard Branson...
Maybe a diagram would help?
Juan Pablo Raba
Beloved Colombian actor Juan Pablo Raba shows his support for the campaign. One of dozens of Colombian celebrities wearing the T-shirt and posting pictures online.
From Montréal, Canada
Your coffee is not from Columbia
Member of Colombia´s Tropipop band Bonka joins the campaign
Colombian actor Manolo Cardona wears THE shirt.
El Pibe Valderrama
Campaign not limited to Colombians
...that's why he's so excited!
From Paris...with love
Sid is from Colombia, NOT Columbia
What Nemo Left Behing In New York
Social Media week is winding down, but there's a campaign that's only beginning to pick up steam. With nearly 9,000 Facebook 'Likes' since its launch on Feb. 7, the campaign "It's Colombia, NOT Columbia" has become the voice of millions around the world who have spent decades correcting people who misspell the South American country. HuffPost spoke with Carlos Pardo, Vice President of Operations for Zemoga, the Bogotá-based digital agency behind the campaign, to discuss their inspiration and goals moving forward.
What motivated you start the social media campaign “It’s Colombia, NOT Columbia”?
The story starts when Zemoga and Compass Porter Novelli, a public relations firm, partnered to launch Social Media Week Bogotá. Last September, we invited the founder of Social Media Week on the international level (Toby Daniels) to give a conference at Social Media Week Bogotá and he had the chance to see the event first hand. He was impressed and invited us to give a conference at Social Media Week New York this year. Our goal was to talk about social media in Colombia. Our thesis is essentially that social networks are the best platform for spreading a message and the new image of Colombia. So we decided to create the campaign “It’s Colombia NOT Columbia” to prove it. There are a lot of people in the world who have an outdated impression of Colombia. We are a lot more than coffee, Colombia is a lot more than Pablo Escobar.
You use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, why did you decide to use social networks as a platform to spread your message?
The image that people had of the country was mostly because of what was seen in traditional media and in Hollywood. We don’t want to deny Colombia’s reality or its past but we do want to concentrate on the good things. We think that social networks today have what traditional media had in the past to communicate these messages to people.
The march (A Million Voices Against The FARC) on February 4, 2008 was a demonstration of how someone with access to a computer or phone can reach millions of people and literally mobilize an entire country for a cause. This march was created by a college student who had an idea and was successful in spreading it to millions of Colombians who took to the streets in peaceful protest to say we are a united voice. That was our first confirmation that social media is a platform that can move masses with little investment.
How does the campaign work on these social networks?
We want everyone to feel free to use the campaign’s slogan “It’s Colombia, NOT Columbia” in any way they deem creatively appropriate. There’s been people that have written it on their hand and have posted pictures others have had their own t-shirts made or some have written it in the snow or sand in different places in the world. It’s Colombia speaking to the world, raising its voice to say “We want to show you all the good our country has to offer and we want to start by having you say our name correctly. (Check out some submissions above)
Obviously Columbia and Colombia are completely different things, but why does the misspelling bother Colombians so much?
More than it being a bother, it’s the fact that a name is a very important part of someone’s identity. If my name is Carlos and they call me something different repeatedly, I’m going to feel bad. We just want people to call us by our name, but the issue goes beyond the name, we want people to be interested in the positive things that are happening here.
With over 7,000 fans in less than a month (launched on February 7) what has been the most surprising aspect of people’s reactions?
The most surprising part is the organic expansion that it has had, because we haven’t promoted the campaign in the media or on TV. People identify with the message, it’s like “Hey I’ve always wanted to say it, to manifest that It’s Colombia NOT Columbia” and now they found a group of people that have done it.
There are some people who’d say that Colombia may not be the paradise that the campaign paints it out to be. For example, despite the current peace talks, violence still exists by the FARC and ELN rebel groups. So what exactly are the changes that you want the world to see in Colombia?
We want people to understand that Colombia is much more than what they see in the media. We want to balance out the message and tell the positive side. Today Colombia has a solid economy and investors are looking towards Latin America, especially Colombia because during the current global financial crisis Colombia has shown sustainable growth rates. I think Zemoga is an example of these changes, people think Colombia is a coffee exporter and it is but it also exports digital services to clients like Toyota, Nissan, BMW, Sea World.
[When Colombia is spelled with a U] people generally take it as disrespectful, personally I don’t think of it as a sign of disrespect but as a lack of knowledge. In 1988, for example, TIME magazine came out with an article headlined “Colombia The Most Dangerous City In The World” and they were referring to Medellín the city. It’s like they had so little interest in even saying the name correctly that they confused a city with a country. Ironically in 2012 Medellín was nominated as one of the three most innovative cities in the world along with New York and Tel Aviv. This is the type of drastic change that Colombia has seen. Medellín went from being a blacklisted city, with one of the highest indexes of crime in the world, to being one of the world’s most innovative cities.
So what is the campaign’s ultimate goal?
At Zemoga we want to continue using this new technology. Our objective is to show as a company that you can change the image of a country, or improve the image, through social media. And what’s happening to Colombia is not just happening here. There are many countries whose image abroad is incorrect or outdated so we want to set that example to say “Take these social networks and use them as peaceful weapons” with which we can change the world. That’s what we’re really looking for.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Colombia is the largest supplier of cocaine in the world. As of last year, Peru and Bolivia have both surpassed Colombia in cocaine production.
Earlier on HuffPost:
Colombia is considered the second most biodiverse country in the world (following Brazil) and the most biodiverse per square kilometer. While only <a href="http://www.biodiversity-day.info/2001/english/bday-colombia.html">covering 0.8% of the globe’s surface it manages to be house to over 10% of the planet's biodiversity.</a> To put this in perspective, Colombia’s ecosystems are home to more than 1,821 species of birds, 623 species of amphibians, 467 species of mammals, 518 species of reptiles, 3,200 species of fish (18% of which are endemic) and a <a href="http://www.cbd.int/countries/profile/?country=co#status">mind-blowing 51, 220 species of plants</a> (nearly 30% endemic). Colombia’s biodiversity, however, is <a href="http://www.cbd.int/countries/profile/?country=co#status">expected to surpass these numbers</a> since many areas of the country remain unexplored and new species continually surface. A Swallow Wings butterfly lands on the Finger of a man at the Botanic Garden Jose Celestino Mutis during an exhibition in Bogota on September 14, 2011. Colombia is one of the countries with the greatest diversity of butterfly species, with some 5,000 diurnal and over 20,000 nocturnal.AFP PHOTO/Luis Acosta (Photo credit should read LUIS ACOSTA/AFP/Getty Images)
"The Door of the Americas"
At the tip of the South American continent, Colombia’s location gives its inhabitants and tourists unique access to both the Atlantic (Caribbean Sea) and the Pacific Ocean. Apart from it’s renowned tropical beaches, the country can offer visitors a chance to explore the Amazon rainforest, climb the Andes or Sierra Nevada mountains (including the country’s snowy peak, highest point, and the world´s tallest seaside mountain <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pico_Crist%C3%B3bal_Col%C3%B3n"> Pico Cristóbal Colón</a>), journey through tropical grasslands, trek through the <a href="http://www.colombia.travel/en/international-tourist/sightseeing-what-to-do/recommended-tourist-attractions-special-reports/la-tatacoa-desert">Tatacoa Desert</a>, and more.
It’s no secret that one of Colombia’s best known treasures are its women -- it’s <em>very</em> beautiful women. While beauty of course remains in the eye of the beholder, whether its on the Miss Universe stage or on the small screen, Colombianas like Sofía Vergara, Shakira, and Danna García are always sure to turn heads. Photo: Valle Deparment's Lucia Aldana perfoms during the Miss Colombia 2012 pageant final in Cartagena on November 12, 2012. Twenty-five women from all Colombian departments are competing for the Miss Colombia crown. AFP PHOTO/LUIS ACOSTA (Photo credit should read LUIS ACOSTA/AFP/Getty Images)
Colombia is known for exporting many things, but did you know the South American country is responsible for more than 60% of the World’s emeralds? That’s right, <a href="http://www.southamerica.cl/Colombia/Emeralds.htm">it’s likely that the green gem in your jewelry box originated from the Emerald deposits of Muzo </a>in Colombia. Known for it’s deep green color and brilliance, Colombia’s emeralds are some of the most sought after in the world. Photo: The largest emerald in the world - called 'Fura' (C) - of 11,000-karat raw and 2.27 kilos (almost five pounds). Fura is presented to the public for the first time in Colombia, 12 years after it was mined in Muzo, in Boyaca province, 75 km north of Bogota. AFP PHOTO/Guillermo LEGARIA (Photo credit should read GUILLERMO LEGARIA/AFP/Getty Images)
Pick A Climate, Any Climate
While many know the country as a tropical paradise due to its location near the Equator, its rich ecosystems are possible due to its varied climate zones (rainforest, savanna, steppe, desert, mountain climate, etc.) There are no striking seasonal changes throughout the year and Colombia’s temperatures vary based on elevations and rainfall. <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_of_Colombia">Climate in the South American country can vary greatly</a>, from it’s sea level tierra caliente (hot land) temperatures of 75.2- 100 °F and it’s cooler temperatures 3,000-6,500 feet above sea level of 50 and 66.2 °F to it’s tierra helada above 14,764 ft where temperatures fall well below freezing. But don’t worry, about 86% of the country has the tropical climate known and loved by those wishing to visit a sunny paradise. ---- COLOMBIA - MAY 20: Communities along the Amazon Basin get flooded in the rainy season. Puerto Narino, Amazon River, Amazon River Basin, Colombia. (Photo by Kike Calvo/National Geographic/Getty Images)
The Best Coffee In The World
Ahh yes, if there’s one thing Colombia has always been synonymous with, it’s delicious freshly ground coffee. The <a href="http://www.colombia.travel/es/turista-internacional/destino/destinos-recomendados-esta-semana/802-triangulo-del-cafe-tres-regiones-y-un-solo-encanto">“Eje Cafetero” (Colombian Coffee-Growers Axis), also known as the “Triángulo del Café”,</a> located within the Caldas, Risaralda, and Quindío departments is home to what many consider the best coffee in the world. Fun Fact: The figure of Juan Valdez that represents the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia is not based off a real person. The fictional poncho-wearing character widely referenced abroad (<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ta8r6URzSJY">remember that scene from “Bruce Almighty”?</a>) is simply used to represent Colombian coffee farmers. Photo: A farmer shows coffee beans in a plantation at the Hacienda Villa Martha in the municipality of La Gloria, department of Risaralda, Colombia, on August 12, 2011. Colombia is recognized worldwide for its high quality coffee. AFP PHOTO/LUIS ACOSTA --- MORE PICTURES IN IMAGE FORUM (Photo credit should read LUIS ACOSTA/AFP/Getty Images) <em>CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the Eje Cafetal in Colombia is located in El Valle del Cauca. While I small area does overlap with this department, the axis is mostly located within the Caldas, Risaralda, and Quindío departments. </em>
The River That Ran Away From Paradise
The world is full of amazing rivers and lakes. But one in particular really stands out. Caño Cristales, commonly referred to as ‘the river that ran away to paradise’ is a famous body of water in Colombia. Residing underwater is a range of rocks covered in green moss. But for a period of time from September to November, the water level dips allowing the sun's natural heat to warm that moss covering the rocks. As a result, blooms grow beneath the water, ranging in all shades of colors.
Se habla español...y muy bien
While the Spanish language may have its roots in motherland Spain, Colombia’s spanish is <a href="http://www.theworld.org/2010/06/the-clearest-spanish/">considered by many to be the “clearest” in the world.</a> This may vary, however, when you travel across the country. In general, Colombians don’t have a strong accent -- especially those living near the<a href="http://www.theworld.org/2010/06/the-clearest-spanish/"> country’s capital, Bogotá. </a> Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos speaks during the inauguration of a Spain-Colombia economic forum. (Photo credit should read GUILLERMO LEGARIA/AFP/Getty Images)
The Fashion Capital Of Latin America
“La ciudad de la eterna primavera” (the city of the eternal Spring) says plenty about the beauty of Colombia’s second biggest city, Medellín. Once known as the home of the ruthless drug lord Pablo Escobar, its thriving textile industry has helped shed its past reputation and replace it with a growing fashion industry. Known by many as<a href="http://www.escapefromamerica.com/2011/07/fashion-in-colombia/"> the “Fashion Capital of Latin America,”</a> Medellín hosts two important annual fashion shows: Colombia Moda and Colombiatex. Photo: (RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/GettyImages)
The Value of Rest
Only bested by Argentina, Colombia has the second highest number of national holidays in the world. With <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/ABC_Univision/News/guess-country-holidays/story?id=17388505">18 public holidays and an average of 15 paid vacation days</a>, it’s clear that this South American country values rest. In comparison, the U.S. has 10 public holidays and about 10 paid vacation days. Most Colombians take advantage of the long weekends offs, also known as “puentes festivos,” to travel within the country with friends and family. Photo: People walk in the streets of the fortified Old Town of Cartagena, Colombia's most important touristic city, taken on November 15, 2009. AFP PHOTO/Rodrigo ARANGUA
A healthy body is a happy body?
Since 1974, on Sundays and national holidays the country’s capital closes it’s usually congested main roads to give Bogotá’s residents a chance to walk, run, bike, skate, skip, hop, etc. In other words, from <a href="http://www.idrd.gov.co/htms/seccion-ciclova_27.html">7 AM to 2 PM Colombian families and tourists can use the over 75 miles of asphalt as their playground. </a> The capital city, Bogotá, has the <a href="http://www.mantarayatravel.com/blog/10-astonishing-facts-about-colombia">most extensive network of cycle routes in Latin America</a> (and is a competitive force for the top spot in the world) Photo: A man fixes bicycles during the Day Without Cars in Bogota on February 2, 2012. A municipal decree prohibites the use of private cars today, in an attempt to reduce pollution levels and to promote the use of public and alternative transport. AFP PHOTO/Luis Acosta (Photo credit should read LUIS ACOSTA/AFP/Getty Images)
Full Belly, Happy Heart
Ajíaco, Sancocho, Bandeja Paisa, Mojarra -- might be the real reason Colombians need the Ciclovías to exercise on the weekends. With delicious typical stews hailing from different corners of the country, Colombians hardly lack gastronomic splendor. Staples of the country are red beans, rice, arepas, empanadas, plantains, among others. But when that plate is cleared off don’t forget dessert! Arequipe (caramel-like spread) with brevas (figs) or obleas (this wafers) are a favorite, otherwise Arroz con Leche (rice pudding) or buñuelos (cheese fritters) can top off any meal! Pictured is a Bandeja Paisa
“¡Oiga, Mire, Vea....vengase a Cali para que vea!” Colombia’s third most populous city, Cali, is not only one of the oldest cities in the Americas, but La Capital de la Salsa (World’s Salsa Capital). With significant differences from other styles of salsa, <a href="http://www.salsa-dance-professional.com/salsa-colombian-style.html">“Salsa Caleña” is known for its quick footwork with a mostly still upperbody.</a> Dancers’ steps are backwards and forwards or diagonal, rather than the side-to-side movements seen in other styles. But Colombians do more than dance Salsa, the country is most well known for both it’s Cumbia and Vallenato genres. Photo: Dancers of the Ritmo Sonero salsa academy perform during a dancing exhibition in Cali, Colombia, Friday, Dec. 28, 2012. Groups of children from salsa schools perform in different neighborhoods during the Cali Fair, one of the most important city's cultural event, famous for the salsa marathon, horse riding parades and dance parties. (AP Photo/William Fernando Martinez)
Nobel Prize Winning Literature
Perhaps Colombians are simply happy about the rich culture of their country. Nobel Laureate and novelist Gabriel García Márquez is perhaps the most well known figure in Colombian literature. Author of “One Hundred Years of Solitude" (1967) and "Love in the Time of Cholera" (1985), his works have not only been critically acclaimed but have made “Gabo” an icon within the Magic Realism genre. Photo: Colombian Nobel Prize for Literature 1982 Gabriel Garcia Marquez, sitting alongside his wife Mercedes Barcha, is asked by admirers to dedicate them books, before boarding the train to his hometown Aracataca 30 May, 2007 in Santa Marta, Colombia. Garcia Marquez didn't visit Aracataca in twenty years. AFP PHOTO/Alejandra VEGA (Photo credit should read ALEJANDRA VEGA/AFP/Getty Images)
The Legend Of El Dorado
If you’ve ever heard of the Legend of El Dorado, then you know of Colombia’s Pre-Columbine history. The <a href="ttp://www.colombia.travel/en/international-tourist/sightseeing-what-to-do/history-and-tradition/archaeological-tourism/the-muisca-raft">original narrative told the story of the Muisca people who used Gold not as a symbol of material wealth</a> but as a sacred metal for religious offerings. The story describes the famed El Dorado ceremony which welcomed the new cacique (chief). Covered in gold powder, the chief would travel atop a raft with emeralds and gold at his feet. Later he would dive into the lake with his offerings as bystanders cheered. The riches of the Muisca people quickly fell in the hands of the Spanish conquistadores upon the “discovery” of the New World and would spur the legend of a city built entirely of gold and gems among Spaniards hoping to find more riches. Bogotá’s International Airport “El Dorado” was named after the ceremony, and gold artifacts, like the Muisca Raft, can be found in the capital city’s Museo del Oro (Gold Museum).
Fútbol With Heart, On It's Way To The Top
United by their love of fútbol -- Colombians rarely miss a chance to socialize over a good soccer match. Whether it’s celebrating for La Selección Colombia or facing defeat, Colombian wear their yellow, blue, and red with pride. Over the past months, Colombian soccer star Radamel Falcao, from the Club Atlético de Madrid, r<a href="http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2012/12/29/top-10-latino-soccer-stars-2012/#ixzz2IARzCuGh">ose to prominence as he led both his club and national teams to stunning victories.</a> Recently El Tigre (The Tiger) became the first player in a decade to score five goals in a La Liga (Spanish club league) match. The footballer’s impressive performance has also helped the Colombian national team become a competitive force within the South American qualifies for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Photo: Colombian forward Radamel Falcao (front) celebrates with teammate Colombian defender Pablo Armero after scoring against Paraguay during their FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014 qualifying football match at Roberto Melendez stadium in Barranquilla, Colombia on October 12, 2012. AFP PHOTO / EITAN ABRAMOVICH/Getty Images
Stars That Shine Bright
Despite all of the country’s qualities perhaps what shines the brightest internationally are its stars. From the charitable Juanes and Shakira and the hilariously sexy Sofía Vergara to the musically talented Fonseca and Carlos Vives -- coffee may no longer be Colombia’s most well known export. Photo: Colombian singers Shakira (L) and Carlos Vives perform during a concert in support of hostage liberation held as part of Colombia's independence day celebrations in the southern town of Leticia, Amazonas department, on July 20, 2008. AFP PHOTO/Mauricio Due?as (Photo credit should read MAURICIO DUENAS/AFP/Getty Images)
In Love With The Chubby
And for all those chubby-loving art fiends, Colombian artist Fernando Botero’s <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-17542660">work is nothing short of innovative. </a>His figurative style “Boterismo” is characterized by portraying subjects in exaggerated volumes. His works are known to depict chubby women, men, children, animals, and even still-life in daily life with a sense of humor. Botero has also taken classics, like Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, and given them his own unique touch. Photo: Sculptures by Colombian artist Fernando Botero are displayed in a square of Pietrasanta in Tuscany, prior to the opening of an exhibition on July 6, 2012. The exhibition entitled 'Fernand Botero: designer and sculptor' unfolding between the squares and streets of Pietrasanta will show 80 sculptures and drawing from July 7 to September 2. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/GettyImages)
The Oldest Democracy
Despite having been ravaged by almost a half a century of violence at the hands of drug cartels and rebel groups, Colombia is actually<a href="http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/countries/americas/colombia/impunity"> Latin America's oldest democracy. </a> In August 2012, President Juan Manuel Santos <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/16/colombia-peace-talks-start_n_1969059.html">announced a fourth attempt </a>at ending decades of violence and a culture of impunity by entering peace talks with the FARC rebel group. Photo: Spains' King Juan Carlos, right, meets with Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos during the 22nd Iberoamerican summit in Cadiz, Spain, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Ballesteros, Pool)
Festivals, Festivals, Festivals
It's not enough to have astonishing biodiversity and ethnic diversity -- you need to celebrate it. Colombia has the worlds biggest theater festival (<a href="http://latineos.com/en/articles/visual-arts/item/104-festival-iberoamericano-de-teatro-bogota.html">Festival Iberoamericano</a>), salsa festival, flower parade. It also has the <a href="http://www.mantarayatravel.com/blog/10-astonishing-facts-about-colombia">second biggest carnival in the world! </a> Photo: People stand amongst flower arrangements during the annual festival of flowers in Medellin, Colombia, Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012. The flower festival is one of the most important events of Medellin and has been celebrated every year since 1957. (AP Photo/Luis Benavides)
An Emerging Global Player
Colombia's real GDP <a href="https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/co.html">grew 5.7 % in 2011 with inflation at 3.7%. </a>TIME magazine said it best when they featured the Colombian President on the cover of their international edition in April 2012, "The Colombian Comeback" is <a href="http://www.time.com/time/covers/europe/0,16641,20120423,00.html">"From nearly failed state to emerging global player -- in less than a decade." </a>