AIDS 2010 :: The Shuga Effect
Behavioural change through media and social networks, it’s the buzz phrase of NGO’s and larger organizations alike. Commercial outlets have caught in the last few years, capitalizing through a social marketing framework - playing on social conscience to reach into people’s pockets. MTV’s been at the forefront of this movement, using it’s influence to channel youth attitudes on the most pressing topics. Out of this lens, MTV Staying Alive Ignite is the network’s initiative to influence behaviours and attitudes through showing the risks around unsafe sex and injection use. The latest project, a personal venture by MTV CEO Bill Roedy, who’s taken a frontseat in promoting HIV/AIDS Awareness since the network started in the 1980’s, is a culturally relevant soap-opera with a message. It’s aimed to youth in the Caribbean and across Africa, and studies have shown that it’s dramatically impacting youth perceptions about the disease and risky behaviour.
MTV Ignite’s first production is Shuga, a sexy teen-soap based in Nairobi and focusing on Nairobi youth. Shuga purports to “make Sex and the City look like Sesame Street” with it’s sexed up storylines and characters in real life or death situations, but always with an integrated message of the risks of unsafe sex and other behaviour that leads to HIV transmission. Localizing the story lines, featuring local actors and a soundtrack of popular and up and coming Kenyan soundtrack, the show’s premier has gained real popularity in Nairobi and Lusaka, Zambia. Following this success, Roedy’s announced plans to expand the show into other countries where it’s hoped it will have the same far-reaching impact.
We’re digging the diverse (and addictive) storylines, the characters’ sense of style (and swagger) and did we mention the music? Of course, the messages behind the risqué plots make it worth watching too.
Watch the Shuga “Behind the Scenes” video below and get hooked to the series, which is available online.