Viacom18 partners with MTV Staying Alive Foundation to launch ‘MTV Nishedh’ campaign

MUMBAI: Media network Viacom18 and MTV Staying Alive Foundation have collaborated to roll out a multi-million dollar behaviour change campaign ‘MTV Nishedh’.

The campaign will focus on fostering healthier attitudes and behaviours and removing the stigma surrounding several health-related issues, including sexual reproductive health and wellbeing, contraceptive care, tuberculosis (TB) and nutrition.

At the heart of the campaign is a 13-episode fictional series, reflecting the trials and tribulations faced by many young people in India today, using themes of love, ambition, family and health to deliver a powerful and inspirational story. The series also aims to educate its audience and to get young people talking and seeking out more information about important and often neglected and overlooked issues.

MTV Nishedh, produced by Mumbai-based production company Victor Tango, will premiere on MTV India starting 25th January and will air every Saturday and Sunday at 8:00 PM and on Colors Rishtey starting 1st February, every Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 pm. MTV Nishedh will also be available anytime on Voot.

Through funded partnerships with the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and The Centre for Social and Behaviour Change, Ashoka University along with The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, this campaign weaves in messaging around sexual reproductive health and wellbeing, contraceptive care and options, consent, preventing teenage pregnancy and reducing stigma around abortion, into its world, characters and stories.

An educational grant from Johnson & Johnson Services has enabled the campaign to integrate messaging around the realities of TB in India – which has the world’s highest burden of this airborne disease – so young people can better understand the signs and symptoms of the disease and help reduce the stigma that is too often associated with it. With UNICEF India, MTV Nishedh will also raise awareness around the importance of nutrition for adolescent girls, with a focus on anemia.

The campaign website (mtvnishedh.com) will feature informative digital content. It will be home to exclusive short form video relating to the drama series, blogs and articles about the health issues and social the campaign is tackling, and an interactive clinic finder to help its audience access clinics and services near them.

MTV Nishedh has been adapted from The MTV Staying Alive Foundation’s multi-award-winning campaign ‘MTV Shuga’ that has had a proven impact on health and behaviour change in Africa. Based on the same model, MTV Nishedh’s 360 campaign uses storytelling to raise awareness and reduce stigma around key issues. In addition to the TV drama, the campaign features a robust digital content strategy, a 15-part radio drama and peer to peer education.

Viacom18 Group CEO and MD Sudhanshu Vats said, “I’ve always believed that doing good is good for business. We have, since inception, created content on social causes and built a successful broadcast business around it – from Balika Vadhu to Shakti to Laado – we have covered a gamut of socially sensitive issues through our TV content. Furthermore, through our youth brand MTV, we continue to create multimedia campaigns, over and above our TV shows, that highlight various social themes. We have explored issues as diverse as women’s empowerment to sanitation through our films like Queen and Toilet: Ek Prem Katha. This business philosophy of doing good was underscored last year when BMGF worked with us to bring forth a behaviour change content series called Navrangi Re! on the issue of Fecal Sludge Management. The sheer number of social organizations and like-minded corporate who are partnering us to launch MTV Nishedh bears testimony to its scale.”

The MTV Staying Alive Foundation Executive Director and MTV Nishedh Executive Producer Georgia Arnold said, “MTV Nishedh marks an exciting point in The MTV Staying Alive Foundation’s journey. Bringing the highly successful MTV Shuga model to India facilitates young Indians to take up more space on issues affecting their everyday lives. The power of MTV Nishedh is in its reflection of real-life – we engage young people in all stages of its development to ensure the stories are relatable, entertaining, and highly engaging. Crucially, all of our content drives the audience to health services where they can receive valuable help. We believe MTV Nishedh has the potential to be a genuinely relevant cultural asset, as well as a successful public health campaign.”

Viacom18 Head – Corporate Marketing, Communications & Sustainability Sonia Huria said, “Well, more than a conscious strategy, I think it is an ingrained thought process at Viacom18. Allow me to explain in some more detail. Our mission is to connect every story to its audience and every audience to its story. And over the last 12 years, we have created stories that resonate with our audience across platforms. Interestingly, some of our biggest successes have been stories that speak of societal issues or regressive societal norms – be it Balika Vadhu, Its Not That Simple, Angels of Rock, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha…the list goes on. Projects like Navrangi Re! and MTV Nishedh are natural extensions of this philosophy of using content to amplify social change. What encourages me is how more partners are recognizing the relevance of this approach and reaching out to us to use entertainment to bring forth such stories of social impact.”

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