Colombians Use Social Media to Address an Annoying Issue

PHOTO: Got it?

Last week, we told you about an innovative new social media campaign designed to remedy the rampant and egregious (and, in one case, still uncorrected as of this posting) misspelling of "Colombia," and, to some extent, the attitude that comes along with misspelling a country's name repeatedly.

Interested (and a little fed up), we spoke with Emilio Pombo of "It's Colombia, Not Columbia" to learn more about the campaign and its goals.

He says the idea for the campaign began with himself and three other people from Bogotá: Rodrigo Salazar, the digital media director of marketing, public relations and communications firm Compass Porter Novelli; Carlos Pardo, the operations vice president of ZEMOGA, a digital agency and development firm; and Tatiana Gonzalez, ZEMOGA's human resources lead.

The four were inspired to tackle this whole "Colombia/Columbia" thing after they were invited to New York Social Media Week as Colombian media and marketing experts… via an email misspelling the name of their country. Someone's got to fix this, they thought, and they're going to have to do it through social media.

And while the campaign has stirred a degree of debate and criticism, Pombo says, overall, the response they've received has been nothing short of amazing. "It's been much larger than expected," he said, adding that the campaign's goal is to inspire like-minded people to act as ambassadors for the cause as well as for Colombia itself. More than simply focusing on the country's name, he explained that the campaign hopes to remedy outdated views and stereotypes about Colombia, its people and its culture.

The campaign's future messaging, he adds, will aim to teach people more about Colombia and urge them to visit and get to know it for themselves. When people talk about Colombia here in the U.S., he told us, they seem to draw on Colombia as it was "ten, twenty years ago." But the country is more than stereotypes about, say, coffee and cocaine, and it's even more than the famous celebrities — like Shakira and Sofia Vergara — that it has brought to Americans' attention. The country is home to influential artists, authors, a thriving music scene, and everyday people who are living, working, and trying to make a difference of their own. Also, fantastic food.

That's why Pombo can't recommend just one place to visit in his vast home country. He spoke highly of its beaches, suggested a trip to Cartagena, praised the natural beauty of the Amazon and touted the country's many business opportunities.

You can follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter. Just make your spelling game is on point.

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