To address PSI’s challenges in accessing this demographic, GSMA, a global mobile industry association representing mobile network operators, hired frog to work with the collaborative team on understanding how PSI could more deeply engage adolescents in family planning. Through in-depth design research, we found that teens lack mentors in their life to teach them about relationships, love and sex. Our recommended solution was for PSI to produce a telenovela geared at teens that exhibits positive behaviors on relationships and love.
Design research leads to valuable insights
At the start of our engagement, PSI was in the process of transitioning from a family planning provider to a health and wellbeing provider. They already knew that girls and young women are particularly vulnerable when it comes to sexual and reproductive health. And while we began the engagement with the same hypothesis, we quickly realized that boys were just as crucial in creating overall healthy environments for young people. With teens aged 14-19 as our main focus, we conducted extensive research on the entire ecosystem that surrounds young women.
In order to ensure teens are able to make healthy decisions, they need to be empowered to develop healthy habits, which sets a foundation for preventing critical health issues like sexually transmitted disease and infections. The challenges are that most teenagers don’t have access to information about sexual health. Rumors and myths about sex and sexuality run rampant throughout schools, and parents and educators don’t always talk to the kids about these issues.
Our Process and Learnings
Our initial research included a participant pool of 15 girls and 14 boys aged 14 – 19 living in urban areas around Mozambique. Over the course of six weeks, we conducted in-depth interviews to get to know our participants, as well as “intercepts,” which allowed us to spontaneously approach adolescents for short, targeted conversations about health, beauty, sex, family planning and relationships. We also conducted a number of activities and workshops to gather insights on how teens were thinking about these issues.
One major learning from our research was that girls have very little agency when it comes to their sexual health, which is compounded by the fact that neither girls nor boys have role models to learn from in these fields. They don’t necessarily listen to the school nurse nor community clinic—but they do watch telenovelas from Brazil.
Meet your users where they are
As a way to deliver these insights to PSI, we created two archetypes or characters based on the teens we talked with. We named them Maria and Roberto, and developed a series of diary entries that convey the day-to-day issues that teens come up against.
PSI took the characters we developed and created a telanovela–style tv show that presents real-life situations and lessons on sexual health within a context that teens actually want to engage with. The first season of the series, entitled “Aquele Papo” aired in Mozembique in the summer of 2019. The show was so popular with the target demographic that PSI is already looking to create a second season.