Selling Colombia as a tourist destination in the international market has been a difficult task in the past. Right-wing paramilitaries, left-wing rebels and drug-trafficking cartels all gave the country a negative and dangerous image, difficult to tackle through campaigns or communication strategies.
For many foreigners, images of drug violence eclipsed the Colombia of Juan Valdez, Shakira and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, whose hometown of Axacataca served as the inspiration for Macondo. Not even the lure of pristine Caribbean waters was enough to help boost tourism to desired levels.
That was until Proexport, the government agency charged with promoting exports, foreign investment and tourism, decided to take the bull by the horns and asked Sancho BBDO design agency to come up with a campaign to attract tourists from specific markets around the world. (Sancho is no longer working with Proexport, but the agency was responsible for creating and developing the tourism campaign.)
The agency took a gamble: it decided to include the word "risk" in the campaigns slogan. After all, it represented what was foremost in everyone's mind, and the very concept the agency wanted to counter. And so, three years ago, the campaign "Colombia, the only risk is wanting to stay," was born.
"The effect of the phrase was so powerful, it's even been used by the government when trying to attract direct foreign investment," said Marcelo Arango Gomez, vice president of strategic planning at Sancho BBDO. "Thanks to exposure in international television (advertisements), the campaign has surely reached business travelers."
The brief for the campaign was based on studies showing that despite tremendous changes in the country, the rest of...