Advertainment For Conservation’s Sake (Now That’s Rare)

Rising human population pressure is a leading cause of biodiversity loss around the world. But untangling the complex web of social, cultural and economic factors that contribute to this pressure is no easy task for conservationists.
For Rare and their partners, taking to the radio waves with an innovative entertainment-education program has been an important step.
Since 1996, Rare has been developing and broadcasting successful radio serial dramas, more commonly known as “soap operas.” These programs rely on compelling characters and dramatic storylines (rather than a dry traditional curriculum) to engage listeners and positively influence attitudes and behavior.
Developed through rigorous research and message development, the serial dramas delve into controversial issues ranging from family planning and teenage pregnancy to AIDS and spousal abuse to deforestation and land tenure-the same issues that, if left unaddressed, will lead to the degradation of both the environment and quality of life.
The program began in the Eastern Caribbean nation of St. Lucia with the wildly popular Apwe Plezi radio show (so named for the Creole proverb “After the pleasure comes the pain”). Rare went on to develop a pilot program for a regional serial drama, titled Coconut Bay, for four neighboring islands-Antigua, St. Vincent, Dominica, and Grenada.
The newest drama, Changing Tides, is now playing throughout Micronesia, where in some countries the population is doubling every 20 years. Developed in partnership with the Berkel Belau Theater Company of Palau and an active coalition of public health and environment officials, the program is targeting an audience of more than 200,000 young adults from Palau to Saipan.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.