It’s time to rebrand Tel Aviv — will you join us?

Tel Aviv's top landmarks (credit: Maya Brenner for Tel Aviv Media Group)

Why is it that when I travel around the world, people still ask me: “Why, of all places, did you choose to live in Tel Aviv?”

Or, even more peculiar: “Where is Tel Aviv?”

After all, people in New York City, San Francisco, London, Paris, and Sydney rarely, if ever, are asked these questions.

People and organizations in Tel Aviv have, on the one hand, done a terrific job of branding our city as a hub for tech and innovation, as well as our thriving LBGTQ community. But, in doing so, we haven’t showcased enough of Tel Aviv’s other brand attributes, many of which have greater and more widespread global appeal.

Framing the Conversation

The story starts in January of 2013. I’m on a Taglit-Birthright Israel trip from my hometown, Los Angeles. It was my first time in Israel, and I knew absolutely nothing about this place (Tel Aviv included), even though I’m Jewish.

My mother nagged me for years to take my Taglit-Birthright Israel trip, but I was headstrong on finishing my journalism degree at San Diego State University before doing so.

Anyway, here I am, a 23-year-old recent college graduate in a completely foreign country with a random group of Americans — and yet, I never felt more at home.

So, I did what most people would’ve done: I called my mom halfway through the trip and exclaimed, “I love this trip, and this country, and Tel Aviv so much … I’m not getting on the plane ride back home.”

To no one’s surprise, she wasn’t exactly thrilled.

Tel Aviv: A Love Story

From there, I found a studio apartment in the city center, and began discovering day-to-day Tel Aviv. What I found was a unique triangle of Western, European, and Middle Eastern cultures converging upon a beach city just 50-square kilometers, with unhinged creativity and uber-interesting people from an array of backgrounds — a concoction I’m almost positive doesn’t exist anywhere else on this planet.

Yet, the more I fell in love with Tel Aviv, the more I realized most of the mainstream world has no idea about Tel Aviv’s unprecedented magic. This baffles me, Tel Aviv is one of the few places in the world which actually offers something for everyone — no matter your age, religion (or lack thereof), sexual orientation, career ambitions, interests, and passions.

Taking Inspiration from Red Bull

In 2016, as part of a research project for my digital marketing consulting business, I thoroughly studied Red Bull Media House, an internal media company within Red Bull, which is at the forefront of some of today’s most innovative digital media, marketing, and events. I’ll never forget sitting in my apartment across from Rabin Square, when I thought to myself: This is exactly what Tel Aviv needs.

I created a presentation for what I called Tel Aviv Media House, and approached one of Tel Aviv’s top movers and shakers, Jay Shultz, who was more than willing to help. The problem, however, was that I neither had the team nor the headspace to spearhead this massive endeavor at the time.

From just another idea, to our life’s work

In December of 2018, my childhood friend from Los Angeles, Elan Benor, who had just moved to Tel Aviv after voluntary serving in the Israel Defense Forces for three years, and then studying at Ben Gurion University, sent me a text message that read: “Check out this blog post I just wrote.”

Unbeknownst to me, Elan created a storytelling blog about people and places in Tel Aviv. I’ll never forget getting that text message from him, and thinking to myself: Elan has what it takes to help make Tel Aviv Media House come to life.

Over the next handful of months, Elan and I spent truly countless hours brainstorming how we can turn Tel Aviv Media House into a real, living thing. We also sought out like-minded people who believed in our mission to enhance Tel Aviv’s all-encompassing brand across the globe, and strengthen the relationship between the rest of the world and our city.

In July 2019, after recruiting a variety of people and advisors to join our team, Elan and I quit our jobs and decided it was time to turn the newly named Tel Aviv Media Group from just another idea, into our life’s work.

Tel Aviv Presents

The first of many initiatives was to create a digital platform, Tel Aviv Presents, which features a multitude of multimedia content that portrays every facet of Tel Aviv. For example, our first original series “Where is Tel Aviv?” pokes fun at this question by answering it through the lens of Tel Aviv’s various brand attributes.

Ultimately, our goal with Tel Aviv Presents is to excite the global masses about Tel Aviv, through extraordinary culture, lifestyle, and storytelling entertainment that portrays Tel Aviv’s entire value proposition, including:

  • Food & Drink
  • Arts & Entertainment
  • Places & Communities
  • History & Traditions
  • Shopping & Fashion
  • Health & Wellness
  • Tech & Media
  • People & Influencers
  • Pop Culture
  • Travel

We are also focused on “putting a face to the name” of Tel Aviv, by making her brand significantly more story- and people-driven, within lifestyle, culture, work/business, and tourism verticals, such as:

In doing so, we aim to help Tel Aviv’s stakeholders (namely, companies and people) engage global audiences and align themselves with the city’s growing brand, locally and globally.

Future endeavors within Tel Aviv Media Group include a platform to promote and showcase local musicians to the world, live broadcasts from Tel Aviv, as well as a variety of events and conferences, all with direct implications on tourism, international investment, immigration, and geopolitics.

Our overall vision is to put Tel Aviv’s brand on the same level as other A-list destinations like London, New York, and Singapore — because, kilometer-for-kilometer, Tel Aviv is the greatest city on this planet.

With our efforts and others, the rest of the world will soon find out.

About the Author
Josh Hoffman is the co-founder of IZZY, a Netflix-like platform featuring original movies, TV shows, and documentaries, made in Israel, for global audiences. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Josh spontaneously moved to Israel in 2013 after taking his Taglit-Birthright trip, his first time in the Holy Land. Five days into the trip, Josh called his parents to inform them that he wasn't to board the return flight, and soon thereafter he became an Israeli citizen.
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