Sex sells

Rome, Italy, Rome | September 27th, 2011

I came across a development project today that blew me away! Shujaaz FM is a fictional radio station in Kenya. It is known to millions of young Kenyans and is playing a fantastic role in education, peace building and poverty reduction. It takes the form of a comic book of which half a million are distributed every month for free. The young people in Kenya lap it up – and each copy is read 10 times.
Everything about it makes it the perfect communications project:-
• It has a very clear audience, 16 to 24 years olds
• It speaks to them in their language – in this case sheng – a combination of English and Swahili which nearly all young people in Kenya understand
• It talks to the audience about the things they want to hear about – mainly sex and money!
• It is constantly informed by rigorous focus grouping and testing of attitudes with its target audience
• It is backed up across a whole series of communication channels – facebook, twitter, web, and a call centre (they are having 450,000 conversations on facebook per year!)
The critical thing is that it doesn’t start from a “worthy” message. It starts from where people are. So – to paraphrase its creator Rob Burnett: Kenyan boys are mainly interested in attracting Kenyan girls. The Kenyan girls aren’t interested if the boys have no money. Shujaaz brings them messages about how to make a little money – perhaps through improving their crop yields by soaking their seeds. But it always puts it in the context of “what motivates the kids”.
Rob’s presentation this morning was the highlight for me of the Sharefair (#sfrome) conference I am attending in Rome. I am here looking for new partners and new ways of working for our knowledge sharing service Practical Answers. I am really hoping that we might be able to use shujaaz to get information out there, to people who can benefit from our simple technologies.
To be honest I don’t feel like its rocket science but it’s inspiring to see such a fantastic communications project – delivering real benefits in Kenya.

One response to “Sex sells”

  1. Geoff Says:

    Hello Robert. I am sorry to intrude. Would you mind contacting me about a genealogy issue concerning the Cartridge surname. I have lots of research but I do not know if you are related. Adelaide Please delete this if you like from your blog. Cheers, geoff

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