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Spreading the word around the world

Article - September 7, 2011
A new foundation, coordinating the efforts of various government agencies, aims to influence the world’s perception of Chile
From battleships and boutiques to broadband-based competitions, raising Chile’s international profile embraces many different methods of communication to expose Chile to the widest audience possible. Until a few years ago, the nation’s promotion abroad was a fairly disjointed, piecemeal affair, carried out by various independent agencies.

In December 2007, however, the government resolved to take the reins of Chile’s global image and direct it with a more targeted and unified approach, subsequently announcing the creation of the Proyecto Chile – Imagen Pais office to position Chile as a unique and competitive country.

The agency’s first move was to launch Fundacion Imagen de Chile on July 5, 2009, a public-private foundation headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The new body coordinates the work of different state institutions promoting Chile’s image abroad, among them the Foreign and Economy Ministries, Corfo, ProChile, Sernatur, Dirac and the Foreign Investment Committee.

Fundacion Imagen de Chile aims to influence the world’s perception of Chile in four main areas, namely culture and society; institutions and public bodies; nature, science and environment; and production and innovation. The foundation is divided into five departments: Administration; a Media Center responsible for the global dissemination of information about Chile; an Ideas Factory comprising creative directors and experts in communications and marketing; an Inter-institutional Coordination Department, which maintains dialogues between private and public sectors; and Chile Global – an international network of Chilean entrepreneurs, executives and professionals who live abroad and are keen to contribute to the country’s development.
A wealth of information about Chile comes together online at its official website, providing an invaluable resource regarding the country, with links to social networking media such as Twitter and Facebook. The foundation’s own website keeps people up to date with perceptions of Chile – its latest project is a quiz about Chile that it will launch on Facebook in October, with the aim of reaching a massive global audience in an entertaining way.

Private enterprises are also expanding their profiles both on and offline. For example, Wines of Chile offers a quiz ( to test people’s knowledge of the nation’s wine industry. Offline, its boutique Manhattan shop brings the Chilean grape and other fine fare directly to the Big Apple.

According to former Minister of Economy, Development and Tourism Juan Andres Fontaine, “Instead of changing the world through revolution, we can change the world through innovation.”

To encourage high-potential foreign entrepreneurs to come and bootstrap their businesses in Chile, last year the government piloted its Start-Up Chile program, which is now in its first full year of operation. The state-sponsored initiative offers successful applicants US$40,000 of equity-free seed capital, and a temporary one-year visa to develop their projects for six months, along with access to the most potent social and capital networks in the country. Start-Up Chile has gained impressive international recognition, having been publicized in Forbes, The Economist, BusinessWeek, and TechCrunch, among others, inspiring spinoffs around the world, such as Startup America, Britain, Greece, and Italy.

Another particularly innovative promotional project comes from the national tourism service Sernatur, which along with ProChile and the Chilean Navy is highlighting Chile’s cuisine abroad. This year, the four-masted Esmeralda barquentine tall ship set sail northwards with its “Tastes of Chile” program. Some 100 importers and Chilean distributors participated in the showcase to promote Chilean products.

The naval training ship is the second tallest and second longest sailing ship in the world and serves as a floating embassy for Chile, showcasing various aspects of the country from port to port. It embarked on its current culinary voyage on May 16. During the 175-day trip the Esmeralda will visit the ports of Iquique, El Callao, Guayaquil, Acapulco, San Diego, San Francisco, Vancouver, Victoria, Pearl Harbor, Papete, Hanga Roa, Cumberland Bay and will return to Valparaiso on November 6, 2011 – a journey of 15,117 nautical miles.

While in San Diego and San Francisco, the ship was a physical representation of the links between Chile and California, which have become stronger after the signing of the Chile-California Plan in 2008 which is designed to boost academic and commercial ties, as well as encourage knowledge sharing and technology transfer.

The plan is to be consolidated further between 2011-2015 to develop collaboration in areas such as energy, agriculture, education, environment and innovation.