Festival Intelligence: Colombia ramps up social media for a greater cause | M&M Global

Festival Intelligence: Colombia ramps up social media for a greater cause

On the world stage, Colombia is perceived as a nation known for its illegal drug trade, corruption, Pablo Escabar and the FARC. But this perception creates a wave of indignation amongst Colombians, as the country’s global reputation is not reflective of its local culture – in which government / not-for-profit organisations are dedicating their advertising efforts towards a greater cause.  

Colombia is the fourth largest ad market in Latin America, after Brazil, Argentina and Mexico. Its net advertising revenues are expected to grow +5.2% in 2018 to reach approximately $1.6bn, according to MAGNA. And as digital media (currently 16% of ad spend) continues to develop, there is a clear move by brands and organisations in using digital to get behind a cause and change perceptions.

With 17 entries from Colombia making it onto this year’s Festival of Media LatAm Awards shortlist, representing 15% of the overall shortlist, there are plenty of trends to take from this work.

Traditional media still plays an important part in the overall media mix, with TV, print, OOH and radio holding firm. The real trend, however, is how social media is proving to be the vital part of the digital experience, helping to drive peak levels of organic impressions and earned media, particularly for campaigns executed on a limited budget.

Of the Colombian entries, almost half (41%) of these came from the government / not-for-profit sector – all of which were dedicated to a range of causes spanning political elections, domestic violence, environmental issues such as deforestation, and using sport (World Cup) as a platform to change perceptions of Colombians on the global stage.

“What I thought was most interesting were [those] ideas and projects with a purpose; not only ideas that were purely to sell a product, they were there to position a brand within a cause, in favour of a greater good,” said Monique Lopes Lima, Director of Special Projects at ad agency Africa. “I was drawn to pieces that talked about encouraging people to get involved with the politics of their country, others that help women who are in need of help against aggressors and violence inside their own homes, and even creations inspiring nations to rebuild themselves after major environmental tragedies.”

Amongst the government / not-for-profit campaign entries, content played an important role, executed in a variety of ways – some with humour and others with a certain element of discretion, addressing sensitive issues that require tailored, more considerate communications.

Within social media, the use of influencers and clever hashtags had a huge impact of the success of these campaigns. The popular memes that have become a staple element of the social media sphere globally were key for at least two of the campaigns, supporting efforts to reach younger audiences.

But one thing that all these entries had in common was a powerful insight, on which the media strategy was built to address a range of issues in the most engaging way. And the fact that three of the four government / not-for-profit entries have been shortlisted in the ‘Best Engagement Strategy’ category suggests they must be doing something right.

Speaking more generally about FOMLA Awards shortlisted entries on the whole, Marcelo Zampini, Co-President and Chief Creative Officer at São Paulo-based agency MeZA, said: “I appreciated all the cases with few exceptions. I found intelligence and strategy as a strong driver in all categories. The insight descriptions were extremely relevant in all cases and sometimes very well done.”

From retail and music partnerships to real-time marketing and programmatic targeting, the Colombian entries highlight the market’s increased sophistication of working with data and audience segmentation, ensuring that brands are delivering contextually relevant communications in the right place, at the right time.

Despite its perceived global reputation, Colombia has much to show in terms of how it navigates the media landscape to create meaningful campaigns with a purpose.  


We put the spotlight on two Festival of Media LatAm Awards 2018 shortlisted entries, which highlight this trend:

Mensajes Blancos / Blank Messages | Ministerio del Interior | MediaCom | Colombia

Shortlisted for: Best Engagement Strategy (GOLD WINNER), Impact Award (GOLD WINNER), The Creative Use of Media Award (GOLD WINNER)


Three quarters of Colombian women experience violent abuse – and their aggressors stop them reporting it. Over the last five years, the Government, along with private companies such as Profamilia, The Pro-Welfare Association of the Colombian Family, has tried to curb this wave of violence. They’ve also pushed for people to publicly denounce aggressors, but very few have been called out. This is because male aggressors intimidate and frighten their partners, and come to control them so much that they have access to their phones, WhatsApp, social media and even their email accounts.

The objective for Ministerio del Interior was to create a safe platform for women to report abuse. If it wanted to help women escape the vicious cycle of abuse, it needed to give them a way out which couldn’t be detected by their aggressors. Women are the primary household users of online shopping, which is why 80% of the ads we see on the internet are focused on women’s products (comScore study). MediaCom’s strategy was to exploit this data and turn digital ad space normally used for advertising women’s products into a means of talking to women suffering from abuse.

It created targeted ads for women on Facebook and Instagram – the two most used social networks in Colombia and most popular platforms for product advertising targeted at women – in which it taught women suffering from abuse a safe way to ask for help. Most importantly, these adverts would not appear on the social feeds of their male aggressors. A simple change of font in an email message changed the lives of many sufferers through a simple, hidden message.

#NoDejesAColombiaEnVisto | Registraduría Nacional del estado Civil | Reprise Digital | Colombia

Shortlisted for: Best Engagement Strategy


The voting context in Colombia is not very encouraging; despite the fact that internet conversations and social networks are very active in terms of politics, it has one of the highest abstention rates (60%) in Latin America. Faith in political proposals, candidates and government entities has gradually been lost. The populist, repetitive and boring discourse that always comes up during elections, makes people see these processes as irrelevant and not the other way around, as something that could change their future and the future of the country.

To try to do something to change this situation, the key was to generate awareness in the young population people who live in the present and not in the future, people who are critical but do not participate and people who, thanks to technology, have developed new forms of more participative, interactive and experiential communication who live only within their own social circles. Today’s language is simpler, faster. But what is the most frustrating thing about communication in this generation? … to see the blue symbol and receive no answer.

Reprise Digital turned this frustration into an awareness factor, and thus, placed politics and elections in the field of youth with #NoDejesAColombiaEnVisto (#DontLeaveColombiaOnRead). It used a mix of media to enhance this concept of communication and give it the importance it deserves through radio, TV, press, live programmes, news, blogs, social networks, hashtags, events in universities, etc. However, it found that beyond the formats nothing exceeded the interaction that its audience has with MEMES, so these were a fundamental part of the strategy, to generate MEME content that was updated based on what happened in the elections, using humour as a means to encourage greater results in terms of remembrance and interaction.

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