History of Sabido Serial Dramas

Miguel Sabido pioneered the Sabido methodology in the 1970s when he was Vice President for Research at Televisa in Mexico. He had an idea for a new pro-social communication model using telenovelas to promote literacy, family planning, and other social development goals.

Acompáñame (“Accompany Me”) and the five additional Sabido telenovelas broadcast on Televisa were attributed as huge successes. The second Sabido telenovella was Acompáñame, which aired for nine months from August 1977 until April 1978 and showed family harmony when choosing to plan one’s family. The results of Acompáñame, as reported by the Mexican government’s national population council (CONAPO), were:

  • Phone calls to the CONAPO requesting family planning information increased from zero to an average of 500 a month. Many people calling mentioned that they were encouraged to do so by the Acompáñame.
  • More than 2,000 women registered as voluntary workers in the national program of family planning. This was an idea suggested in Acompáñame.
  • Contraceptive sales increased 23 percent in one year, compared to a seven percent increase the preceding year.
  • More than 560,000 women enrolled in family planning clinics, an increase of 33 percent (compared to a 1 percent decrease the previous year).

Sabido developed additional social content telenovelas, which were all broadcast on Televisa:

  • Ven Conmigo (”Come With Me”) motivated viewers to register for literacy classes using a study program offered by the Secretary of Education in 1975.
  • Vamos Juntos (”Let’s Go Together”) role modeled responsible parenthood and active development of children in family and in society in 1979-80.
  • El Combate (“The Struggle”) promoted adult education programs in several communities outside of Mexico City and dispelled the myth that adults cannot go back to school in 1980.
  • Caminemos (”Going Forward Together”) addressed sex education for adolescents role modeling responsible sexual behavior in teens in 1980-81.
  • Nosotros las Mujeres (”We the Women”) role modeled women’s important role in family and society and addressed machismo traditions in 1981.
  • Los Hijos de Nadie (“Nobody’s Children”) raised the issue of homeless children and used role models to change opinion and encourage ending the “silent conspiracy” surrounding the problem in 1997-98.

During the decade 1977 to 1986, when six of these Mexican soap operas were on the air, the country experienced a 34 percent decline in its population growth rate. As a result, in May 1986, the United Nations Population Prize was presented to Mexico as the foremost population success story in the world.

Thomas Donnelly, then with USAID in Mexico, wrote, “Throughout Mexico, wherever one travels, when people are asked where they heard about family planning, or what made them decide to practice family planning, the response is universally attributed to one of the soap operas that Televisa has done. …The Televisa family planning soap operas have made the single most powerful contribution to the Mexican population success story.”

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