For over 30 years EE programs have been enormously successful in the developing world in helping solve important social problems such as the population explosion, adult illiteracy and HIV/AIDS, while attaining top ratings. ClearVision believes that if someone developed a system or methodology for maximizing the positive social impact of commercial entertainment, they would come up with something identical to the EE strategy in its most essential elements. It is precisely because there’s such a logic to this strategy that many Hollywood writers and producers have naturally come to use aspects of the EE strategy piecemeal.
Unfortunately, this has led many people in Hollywood to believe that by using entertainment to raise awareness, they’re already doing “entertainment education,” which is only partly true. However, ClearVision understands that EE is a comprehensive social change strategy that when applied systematically, has a powerful synergistic effect that helps change attitudes, behavior and social norms. The whole of this strategy makes it far greater than the sum of its parts.
Checks and Balances
Using television and other media to help people change their behavior must be done ethically so as not to impose a writer’s or producer’s own values on audiences. Central to the brilliance of the EE strategy is its integrated system of checks and balances which ensures that the values depicted in an EE program reflect the self-proclaimed values of the country where it’s produced. These safeguards are developed during an intensive formative research process that distinguishes EE programs from conventional entertainment and is key to their remarkable appeal and positive social impact.
Formative research is conducted with issue experts and the target audience to understand the important issues affecting them and the obstacles that are preventing them from improving their lives. The fruits of this research are then woven into top-quality, highly entertaining TV dramas, which is why EE programs often become the most popular shows on the air.
Some EE Results
EE programs are strategically designed to use compelling characters that serve as role models whom audiences identify with intensely and aspire to emulate, inspiring changes in their attitudes and behavior that improve their lives and solve important social problems. These programs also motivate audience members to utilize community based resources, which is key to helping them change their behavior. Some results of EE programs include:
- In Mexico, a top-rated EE soap opera was able to increase enrollments in state-run adult literacy classes by over 700 percent, nearly a million more students in a single year.
- Several highly rated EE soap operas helped reduce Mexico’s dangerously high birth rate from 3.7 to 2.4 children per family in five years, a feat previously considered impossible by population activists.
- In South Africa, a staggering 95% of top-rated Soul City’s audience said they learned something new about critical health issues and over 75% actually acted on this knowledge.