One fantastic way to promote your city!

Normally, when you want to promote your town or city you spend thousands or millions of dollars looking for an expensive agency to design a marketing strategy. They will spend months analyzing data, preparing proposals, hiring experts, and after months of hard work they will come to you will a couple of final proposals that you will not entirely like. If you accept any of the proposals, you will have to spend a lot of money on the media buying and people to manage and monitor the campaign.

Why would you do this anymore?

Today there’s something extremely powerful called “virality”, which is a result of the mass sharing content extremely fast and effectively online though the social media networks. If you find someone creative enough, and you are willing to use this thing called innovation, you can succeed and make the world know that your destination exists, and not only that, make the world know that your destination is a place where you don’t fear to do new things and have fun.

sabadell promo javi yebenes

Here is a perfect example of what I’m talking about, the small town of Sabadell invested some dollars in putting together the local orchestra and choruses and recording the flash-mob they organized in a downtown plaza. In this case, they used a local bank to finance the “promo” including a couple of takes of the banks facade in the video, but this action reduced the cost to nothing for the city’s tourism office.

Obviously, people are already tired of Flash-mobs, but when you play something like “Joy’s Anthem” or “Anthem of Europe” and you get children involved, our most human side has no other chance but to enjoy it, feel it and share it.

Pau Gasol visits Toronto

Last night, members of the Spanish Community in Canada welcomed Pau Gasol to Toronto where he will start a 3 game tour with his team, Los Angeles Lakers. The Spanish associations of Toronto offered the basketball player a plaque of the city recognizing his career and his  work as ambassador of Spain and the Spanish culture all over the world. Representatives of the Spanish Community included Javier Yébenes and Paloma Radovski from “Spaniards in Toronto”, Maria Dolores González from “Hispanic Club of Toronto. Gasol also received a basket of Canadian products like Maple Syrup, to have a taste of our roots and our culture.

During the event, the attendees had a chance to chat with the NBA superstar and ask some questions. Gasol was perfectly correct and friendly at all times and when being asked about his recent concussion, he said he is ready to play against the Raptors and that he is fully recovered.

Javi Yebenes y Pau Gasol en Toronto

Once the event ended, Gasol had a workout session and he got authorized by his team to leave the hotel to join for dinner with his friend and Spain team’s teammate Jose Manuel Calderón.

After spending some time with him and talking about people in common and sharing anecdotes, I can say that Gasol is a true ambassador of the Spanish culture and the country around the world, and he represents me out of our borders better than any politician.

Javi Yebenes and Pau Gasol Toronto

Lath Mar Holi – Festival of Colours

Holi is an Hindu celebration of the Spring and the end of the winter season on the last full moon day of the lunar month “Phalguna”, which usually falls in the later part of February or March.

One of the greatest things about this celebration is the loosening strictness of social structures, in India normally age, sex, status, and caste. Holi brings Hindus together and closes the wide gaps between social classes of this country. It is very special to see the people enjoying this festivity together, not worrying about stereotypes. the rich and poor, women and men, enjoy each other’s presence during Holi and the atmosphere is filled with excitement and joy.

The one thing that makes Holi unique is the colorful atmosphere created by thousands of joyous participants throwing colored water and powder to each other. In the northern region of Uttar Pradesh, “Lathmar Holi” is celebrated before Holi itself, and while it is a rite of spring there as well, the festival also celebrates another fun tradition  rooted in ancient Hindu mythology. Krishna visited the village of Barsana to disturb his consort Radha. As a response, the women of the town  chased him away. Today women from Barsana “beat” playfully the men from Krishna’s village of Nandgaon with sticks, called lathis,  for singing provocative songs in a bid to invite their attention. With the same purpose, men also throw colored powder on women.

The festival officially begins with a ceremony at Radha’s temple in Barsana and normally lasts for 2 days. On the first day of the festival, “gopis”, wich is the Hindu name for shepherds, from Nandgaon come to Barsana to play Holi with the gopis of Barsana.  On the second day happes exactly the opposite and the celebration takes place in the town of the Lord Krishna.

During Holi, participants drink “thandai”. This libation based on nuts and flowers is sometime intoxicating because it is laced with a paste called “bhang,” made of cannabis. Bhang and Holi have always gone together. After drinking bhang, people react in different ways, some people dance, some jump into the mud, others cry or laugh, but this kinky experience is a good way for the locals to relax and bond.

If you ever visit Uttar Pradesh during Holi, you will breathe the thick air with flower scent and your conception of India and the Hindu culture will radically change.

Holi in North-America:

Photography by Adnan Abidi – Reuters

Jane’s Journey – A night with Dr. Jane Goodall

“Every day of your life you make an impact and it is your choice to decide which kind of impact you want to make”.

Last night I had the privilege to attend the inaugural Toronto screening of the acclaimed documentary “Jane’s Journey”, and it was one of these moments that change your life. During the time I’ve been working for BOLD Magazine I was lucky enough to meet some of the most important artist, writers and scientists in the world, all of them charismatic, but none of them had an aura like the one Dr. Jane Goodall has.

Photography by Jane Goodall’s Institute of Canada

I always thought that a night at the Ontario Science Centre is a special night, and I always think to myself that lot of Torontonians don’t know what a treasure they have hidden in their own land. I invite all of you to discover what an inspiring and educational place the centre is.

Ontario Science Centre’s CEO, Lesley Lewis, gave a welcoming speech to the audience and introduced them to Andrew Westoll, primatologist and writer. Westoll shared the story of how he met Dr Goodall and expressed his admiration for the scientist. After that, Dr. Jane Goodall walked into the stage and the audience gave her an standing ovation.  The zoologist gave an inspiring speech about the importance of the  conservation of the environment and encouraged every single individual “to respect and protect the nature and the living beings”.

“If you work hard, you don’t give up and you take advantage of the opportunities, you will make your dreams come true”.

Without further ado and thanking the filmmakers and technicians, Dr Goodall gave way to the documentary, “Jane’s Journey”.

Fifty years ago, the young and intrepid Jane Goodall made her childhood dream come true, going to Africa, and she first set foot on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, in what is now Tanzania’s Gombe National Park. Today, Dr. Goodall is a world-renowned zoologist and one of the best-known scientists of any kind. But that’s not all, she is also UN Messenger of Peace, conservationist, environmental and animal rights activist and she has more than 40 honorary doctorate degrees from universities all over the world.

Over the course of her life she spent 30 years studying the behavior of chimpanzees at Gombe, and she never stopped until an eye opening experience in Chicago, in 1986, pushed her to travel the world to raise environmental awareness and inspire action. Among her groundbreaking discoveries was the fact that humans are not the only animals with the capacity to make and use tools.

After the screening of the moving documentary,  Jane Lawton, Director of the JG Institute of Canada, gave members of the audience of all ages the opportunity to a Q&A with the scientist, and she replied to every single one of them naturally and sharing her knowledge gained through life experience. To end a wonderful evening, the primatologist stayed for more than 1 hour signing books and DVD’s to the guests.

Dr. Goodall is 77 years old and that doesn’t stop her from doing what she thinks is the best for our planet, making people from all over the world conscious about the delicate situation of our fauna and flora and most importantly, giving people hope.

Jane’s Journey Trailer:

Dr. Goodall’s discoveries and work are an inspiration, not just to every animal lover and every women, but also to every scientist and every dreamer.

- Written by Javi Yebenes -

Special thanks to:

PROM 2012: Circus

The Young Patron’s Circle presented its annual themed soiree PROM Circus this past March 31st at the Royal Ontario Museum. The event was co-chaired by Andrea Anders and Nicole Tuschak, along with a committee of Toronto’s top young arts and business leaders. Although museum fund-raising events have a tendency to be a little stuffy, this one was one of the most exquisite-top-notch fund-raising events of the season: live entertainment and dancing, strolling circus performers, fun-fair activities and gourmet carnival fare.

The Gents sported Vintage tuxedos and candy-coloured bow ties while the ladies wore darling dresses fit for a star performer while a few guests opted out for the more traditional tie and suit look and classic prom dresses.

The PROM Circus themed party opened its doors at 8:00 p.m. and began with a exclusive pre-party reception for VIP guests with hors d’oeuvres, an oyster shucking station, open bar and a wine sampling table sponsored by Wine Country Ontario. VIP guests also played for an spectacular necklace from Birks, by guessing the age or weight of a meteorite from out of the ROM’s vaults.

MTV Canada’s Sharlene Chiu and Johnny Hockin hosted the reception and presented an exclusive performance by the astounding illusionist Ray Chance, charming the guests with his tricks and his humour.

At 9:00 p.m. the gates were opened for the main event and VIP guests were joined under the big top by the couture crowd. Guests mixed and mingled with a cocktail in hand while tasting the delicious amuse-bouche prepared by Presidential Gourmet fine caterings. On the main room, there was a wide variety of activities, like a “Baker Street” pie stand, a fortune teller with a crystal ball and a ring toss game, complete with prizes. An incredible aerial performance took place on the dance-floor featuring the music of “Mecano” and guests had their personalized Circus picture taken; while others relaxed at the Moroccanoil lounge.

The PROM: Circus fund raiser was a great  opportunity to discover the spirit of YPC while supporting cutting-edge curatorial research and educational initiatives through the YPC Research Fund.

What is Kony2012?

KONY 2012 is a half-hour documentary, from the Invisible Children‘s campaign “Stop Kony 2012” and filmed by director Jason Russell, who is tapping into the power of social media to reach a global audience. The purpose of his documentary, according to Russell, is to get people to know who Joseph Kony is and not to celebrate him while raising support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice.

This war-lord from Uganda is one of the most vilified strongman in this planet and he is at the top of the list of the “world’s most wanted man” by the International Criminal Court. He is accused and responsible for the abduction, death or enslavement of more than 30,000 children. He is known for the extreme atrocities he commits, including murder, mutilations, rape, and in some accounts even cannibalism.

In this moving documentary KONY 2012 Jason Russell declares Kony to be the “most wanted man in the world according to the ICC“, and this project aims to spread his name all over the world to pressure the authorities to capture him.

Since the teaser appeared on some of the world’s most respected newscasts, hundreds of thousands of internet users have signed onto the cause and the youtube video has had over 50 million views worldwide.

The public support in favour of democratic progress and freedom has been immeasurable, however there is a certain number of individuals that question the intentions of the organization Invisible Children and its lack of transparent procedures. Grant Oyston, student at the Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada; created the blog “Visible Children“, as a response; urging people to make their own research before signing for an organization that lacks transparency.

In the last days, the same “viral magic” that made the documentary known around the world has turned against the campaign, and some images of Jason Russell’s team holding machine guns have surfaced on the social media circles, causing great controversy.

A certain number of independent publications like Daily Paul, are warning readers of the hidden motives behind this sudden massive promotion made by the media. It seems that the video was released for the first time back in 2003 and in the past 9 years no one seemed to care. So, what has changed? The American publication says:

“Uganda’s oil reserves could be worth as much as that of the Gulf countries”, a senior official at the US Department of Energy has said, and “China might be trying to participate on the extraction of that oil”.

For now we don’t know what will happen in Uganda, what we know for sure is that Kony2012 has had a huge success as a marketing strategy of Invisible Children to be known worldwide.