VIE WPOIN TS
INSIDE LATIN AMERICA
A PROGRAM WITH
Colombia relies on a comprehensive well-coordinated program to restore
its battered image.
BY ROBERTO TOLEDO, MBA, PMP
In the last two or three years you might have run across TV or magazine ads promoting Colombia as a good, safe travel destination. The marketing campaign, Colombia Es Pasión (Colombia Is Passion), is built around the tag
line: “Colombia, the only risk is wanting to stay.”
It’s a bold message when you consider that for most of the
1980s and 1990s Colombia was infamous around the world
for being a very risky country to visit, plagued with kidnap-
pings, drug-related violence and guerilla warfare.
Most of Colombia’s security problems began to ease at
the turn of this century. But perception is reality, and even
though the situation in Colombia improved around 2003,
most of the world still doesn’t see the country as safe for travel
In response, the government agency Proexport Colombia, in conjunction with many of the nation’s companies
and commerce associations, launched Colombia Es Pasión
to promote investment, tourism and exports. Now in its
fifth year, the program has contributed to the country’s
sustained success and is a source of great pride to Colombians. Even though the program has not been without
controversy and heated debate, the plan is to keep it going
for many more years.
Marketing campaigns don’t always follow traditional program management principles, but this one certainly bears all
n Tracking contributions of all projects to the overall
Some work may still be needed here. Many Colombian
nationals who I’ve talked with argue for tighter coordina-
tion amongst all the agencies and organizations involved in
the program. The great efforts pursued under the program
umbrella sometimes overlap or diverge greatly in quality and
lack a coherent direction.
Clear stakeholder identification was conducted during the
first stages of the program. At first glance, it seems logical to direct all marketing and content development only
toward people outside of Colombia. Nevertheless, Proexport
developed a strong domestic campaign to make Colombians
aware of their own achievements and successes. This is often
described as a stepping stone for spreading the good news.
For a country that has struggled for years, it’s imperative
that the program attacks both global and domestic fronts.
The essence of the program is to align international perception of Colombia with the country’s current prosperous
economy—generating confidence while boosting opportunities in exports, foreign investment and tourism.
Establishing this clear objective was one of the program’s
very first successes. Accordingly, Proexport’s main responsi-
n Managing the overall campaign
n Maintaining consistency among all messages and visual
n Defining new projects to be incorporated into the program
One of the most important aspects of any program is the
integration of all project objectives to bring benefits too big
to be met individually. Colombia Es Pasión is certainly doing
that. As outlined in a report marking the program’s fifth anniversary, the program management office cited figures from
the World Bank that show Colombia now ranks as one of the
most amicable countries to do business. During the last five
years, foreign investment grew fivefold, exports tripled and
the number of tourists grew from 500,000 in 2002 to almost
3 million in 2010.
It seems perception is finally matching reality in
Roberto Toledo, MBA, PMP, is manag-
ing director of Alpha Consultoría, and a
trainer and consultant who works across
Latin America. He can be reached at