PMC works in partnership with Comunicarte, a social marketing organization in Rio de Janeiro.
With support from PMC, Comunicarte helps TV Globo, the most popular television network in Brazil, to track and monitor the inclusion of social and health themes in their telenovelas. By providing TV Globo with a detailed content analysis of how various social and health issues were incorporated into their programming, Comunicarte is able to provide useful feedback on how the issues were addressed and encourage TV Globo in their efforts.
Brazil is Latin America’s most populous country, with a population of 188 million. Its fertility rate has declined significantly in the last 15 years and now stands at 2.3 children per woman. However, larger family sizes are still found in a number of rural and impoverished regions of the country, and teenage pregnancy remains a problem.
In Brazil, television is a favorite pastime, with about 88% of households owning a color television set. Comunicarte has a contract with TV Globo to monitor its soap operas, aired Monday to Saturday.
TV Globo regularly reaches about a 65% of the viewing public, expertly dubbing and exporting their programs to dozens of countries worldwide, including all of Spanish-speaking Latin America.
As with American soap operas, Brazilian telenovelas are very popular in many Latin American countries. However, unlike American soap operas, Brazilian telenovelas generally last 6 to 12 months (five days a week) and then are replaced by a new program. They also dominate the evening prime-time viewing hours and are not limited to day time.
TV Globo: Páginas da Vida
From September 2006 to March 2007, TV Globo broadcast the highly popular program Páginas da Vida (“Pages of Life”).
The plot of Páginas da Vida was designed around several intersecting storylines and addressed various issues such as family planning and Down syndrome.
The story begins with a young student named Nanda who becomes pregnant at a young age by an irresponsible man who eventually disappears. Unfortunately, Nanda dies during the birth of her twin daughters and her mother refuses to take the girl who is diagnosed with Down syndrome. Longing to be a mother, Nanda’s obstetrician, Dr. Helena, adopts Clara, the child with Down syndrome. She treats Clara well, and through their encounters with others who stigmatize people with Down syndrome, they raise an ongoing debate on the treatment of those with disabilities.
It was highly entertaining, yet able to raise many important questions throughout Brazil concerning social and reproductive health issues. The story line involving a teenage pregnancy encouraged many adolescent viewers to seek family planning services.
At the conclusion of this particular program, multiple quantitative and qualitative studies assessed the impact of Páginas da Vida.
Some highlights of these results include:
• 60% of women interviewed watched Páginas da Vida on a regular basis.
• 65.4% of female viewers interviewed said they would be “more careful” to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
• Among viewers interviewed at BEMFAM family planning clinics, 60% of clients age 18-24 said that scenes in Páginas da Vida served as a stimulus for them to seek a health service.
• There was more than a 50% increase in knowledge among women interviewed with regard to various reproductive health issues such as: contraceptive methods, family planning, maternal health, maternity/paternity, unwanted pregnancy, adolescent pregnancy, and HIV/AIDS
In 2007, TV Globo’s soap operas integrated 792 scenes dealing with reproductive health, small family size, gender relations, and related social and health issues. In 2006, a total of 915 scenes were incorporated into six prime-time programs.
The Brazilian government has formally acknowledged the power of social merchandising, stating, “The telenovela is the strongest audiovisual tool of the country and can be used as a weapon to educate the current population. It is a source of information and entertainment.”