MTV Staying Alive Foundation – ‘Shuga: Love, Sex, Money’
06 October 2011
MTV Staying Alive Foundation
Africa; then global
TV; online; radio
Following its success in 2009, MTV Networks Africa, the Staying Alive Foundation, PEPFAR and the HIV-free Generation (HFG) have once again joined forces for their HIV and Aids campaign aimed at young people, ‘Shuga’.
Series two of the campaign, ‘Love, Sex, Money’ expands and develops the storylines that were introduced two years ago. The six-part series, an increase from the original three, takes an in-depth look at issues such as HIV testing, stigma, condom use, gender inequity and the role of multiple concurrent partners in driving the HIV epidemic in Africa.
The first series was watched by 60% of young people in Nairobi, Kenya. The main goal of ‘Shuga 2’ is to replicate that success but extend it even further and encourage behavioural change, with an overall ambition of reducing HIV among young people over the next five years.
‘Shuga’ has a strong online presence via social media, where the actors in the series open up their private profiles to become public faces and ambassadors for the campaign.
The actors are “the best marketing tool we could have,” says Georgia Arnold, vice-president social responsibility, MTV and executive director, Staying Alive Foundation. “Young people will write personally to them asking for advice on the issues explored in ‘Shuga’.”
Marketing efforts for the campaign kicked off this summer with an initiative inviting young people to be mentored by members of the production team – producers, director and actors – to give them experience of working on a set. Other elements of the campaign have included a public casting process in August.
“It’s not just a TV programme – the way that it was marketed had a huge impact,” says Arnold. “We partnered with local radio stations to extend its reach, had mobile testing centres, street teams, a website and blog.”
Although ‘Shuga’ was originally launched in Kenya, the backing of the MTV brand allows the campaign to be distributed anywhere else in the world, she explains. “We produce everything so that its rights are cleared. We then give it away to any individual, broadcaster, university or youth group at no cost, so it’s hugely distributed across the globe.”
The value of the brand has helped the campaign, says Arnold. “‘Shuga’ became the largest mass media campaign for HIV in the world, because it’s on MTV. We’re very lucky to have that partnership, not only because of its reach but because we work within MTV. We have the ability to use the highly valuable brand and tap into the creative and air time.”
“‘Shuga’ showed the world that drama and public health messages can work together to effect genuine attitudinal change,” she says. “Series two will build on this foundation to generate real behavioural change in sexual health, while also entertaining and engaging youth audiences.”