Two young girls scream as the roller coaster they are seated on ascends into the clouds. A group of surfers clad in matching teal shirts hold their boards as they walk at the edge of the Mediterranean Sea. A toast of “lechaim” is made on freshly squeezed juices.
Such is a typical day in Tel Aviv. Or, at least this is true according to the “Tel Aviv Live” Snapchat story, which was available to view yesterday on phones or tablets everywhere.
Since February of this year, the Snapchat app, which is notorious for allowing users to send pictures and videos that vanish in mere seconds, has introduced a new feature that gives consumers at a given event or city the ability to submit representative photos and videos of its happens. If selected, they are featured as part of a larger group of images and recordings that are used to tell the “story” of that place.
Snapchat Live stories, which run about 200+ seconds and generate about 20 million views in 24 hours, have included a range of topics, from Cape Town to the Grammys, Dubai to a somber “Charleston Strong.” With each image viewed, app users gain an intimate glance into the experiences of millions across the globe.
Yesterday, in addition to Tel Aviv, the “stories” being told were of Louisville and the Running of the Bulls ceremony in Spain.
The images presented of Tel Aviv showed a wide range of its inhabitants speaking in Hebrew and English and were largely apolitical. A woman in a head covering baked laffa bread outdoors. A young man walked through the Carmel shuk and declared that “here in Tel Aviv we have everything.” The letters “TLV” were drawn in sand and circled with a heart.
They were also informative. A young woman’s voice explained to viewers the nature of Israeli street signs, which are written in English, Hebrew and Arabic. Another showcased the Azrieli Center, the highest building in the city.
The feed featured images of peace, like a "Mohammed + Moshe" graffiti, but the selection of Tel Aviv as the featured city sparked a backlash among some app users. Throghout the day, the hashtag #StopTelAvivLive was trending on twitter, with users referring to the images as "painful" and a "disgrace."
Still, such a display of the best that Tel Aviv has to offer served as an unexpected marketing tool. This is in part due to the nature Snapchat’s users, who, as a younger demographic can be more impressionable.
Some took to other social media outlets to express how these images sparked their interest in visiting the city.
“The Tel Aviv and the Running of the Bulls snapchat stories have got me checking plane prices,” wrote college junior Elliot Reissner on Facebook. “Anyone down for a quick trip to the Mediterranean?”