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The Power of Entertainment Education

Do you remember the last show that moved you to think differently about something important? A TikTok video that made you try something new? Or a personal story/ testimony someone shared on Facebook that motivated you to take better care of yourself in some way? This is the power that Entertainment Education (EE) has to influence behaviors and change lives.

By blending the art of entertainment with the science of analysis and theory to shape a compelling narrative, EE can reshape social norms, challenge harmful gender stereotypes and move audiences to practice healthier, more positive behaviors. As the Social Learning Theory tells us, we observe what happens to characters in the piece, evaluate those consequences in our own life and then try to emulate that behavior. EE has also been used effectively in areas outside of health, including agriculture, environment, social justice, diplomacy and education. 

EE’s History at the SBCC Summit

EE has proved flexible and reflects history. From influential movie stars, musicians and telenovelas in the 80s, we now also talk about TikTok, digital games and influencers on YouTube, Instagram and more. 

Before we even had the first International SBCC Summit in 2016, there were worldwide gatherings focused on EE, convening in the United States in 1989 and 1997, the Netherlands in 2000, South Africa in 2004 and India in 2011.

In 2016, the conference expanded to include all social and behavior change communication, including EE. The Summit continues to showcase the most exciting and innovative EE talent from around the world. 

Why EE and SBC are good partners

EE is one of the greatest tools in our SBCC toolkit. All cultures love to be entertained. When you are being entertained, your emotions are engaged, your guard is down, your senses are stimulated. You are open to learning. High-quality EE captures and holds the audience’s attention allowing people to really absorb the content. From singing to learn the alphabet at a young age to mobilizing people through TikTok to get the vote out, EE is an important part of social and behavior change communication.

With the explosion of social media (see graphs on ad spending on a number of channels), EE is transforming from the more traditional approach of TV, radio or community drama to something more instant, demand driven and personal. EE is taking advantage of trends by working with media influencers and creating shorter form content. We have so much to learn from those who are already harnessing its power.

EE content at the Summit

Entertainment Education is featured across the Summit program in preformed panels, multimedia, comms talks and Blue Sky Sessions. The Wednesday morning poster session will have an Entertainment Education spotlight with 28 posters. On the Summit Schedule, you can click on ‘more filters’ and search for entertainment education to get a full list of offerings.

I am particularly excited about a special EE secretariat session on Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 9:15 a.m. entitled “(Main) Streaming Entertainment Education: Meeting the Future in Digital Formats.” With individuals increasingly accessing information and entertainment from digital sources (Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, gaming) and using influencers, this session will explore how people can use Entertainment Education theories and principles to strengthen programming and impact.

How to connect with others who are interested in EE

At the SBCC Summit, there will be several different ways to engage and connect with fellow EE fans!

  • In the program, seek out sessions tagged Entertainment Education (just click on the box labeled more filters and choose Entertainment Education).
  • You can post your EE updates, insights, networking and take-aways on the discussion forum.
  • Check out the exciting EE page on the Summit website.
  • An EE virtual wall will be live in Morocco where Summit participants will be able to post their comments, insights, photos and more EE fans who aren’t at the Summit can still follow along by visiting the EE page on the Summit website.
  • Use hashtags #SBCCSummit and #EEforSBCC for your social media posts.