C’est La Vie (That’s Life) is an entertainment education program produced by RAES that broadcasts a soap opera focused on reproductive health and rights across West Africa. For season three of their show, C’est La Vie partnered with Facebook to assess whether a storyline on Human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer, along with ads sharing information on HPV had an impact on the audience’s knowledge of HPV. Surveys conducted by RAES following the season found that people who saw C’est La Vie content on Facebook had a 94% increase in odds of knowing that HPV could cause cervical cancer and nearly twice the odds of saying they would have their child vaccinated.
C’est La Vie is the first series of its kind in western Africa and was inspired by Mexican telenovelas that promote literacy and family planning, as well as by MTV Shuga, an educational television series in Africa produced by MTV. RAES, the organization that produces C’est La Vie, reported that since 2017, the show has reached approximately 40 million TV viewers and 25 million viewers on another social platform. The show focuses on health issues, including maternal mortality, HIV, sexuality, and menstruation.
“The idea of ‘entertainment education’ is that fiction can create a lot of empathy for characters and what they go through,” said C’est La Vie’s Program Director, Louise Lavabre. “This gives us an opportunity to more effectively share health-related messages.”
C’est La Vie used Facebook ads to share information about HPV and to encourage people to tune in their show. Following the season, RAES’s academic research partners analyzed results from a survey of likely viewers of the show to assess whether seeing HPV content or watching the show was associated with knowledge and awareness of HPV. C’est La Vie also used Facebook’s Audience Insights tool to learn more about their viewers.
In a survey commissioned by RAES, results showed a significant association between knowledge on several HPV-related questions for people who remembered seeing HPV content on Facebook or who reported watching C’est La Vie episodes compared to people who didn’t report seeing HPV content. Survey participants who saw HPV content had a 94% increase in odds of knowing that HPV was a virus that caused cervical cancer than those who did not see this content and a 64% increase in odds of knowing there was a vaccine to prevent cervical cancer. In that same survey, people who saw HPV content also had a 69% increase in odds of saying they would have their child vaccinated against HPV compared to those who didn’t see this content.
In a survey commissioned by RAES marketing partners, C’est La Vie learned that most of their viewers were between 18 and 34 years old, were likely to have completed high school and/or attained a university degree, and lived in big cities. In response, they adjusted the graphic design and tone of their content to better cater to their primary viewership. For future seasons, C’est La Vie is using these insights to identify ways to expand their audience, including by creating content that resonates with younger viewers and those living outside of cities.