Media > Channels

KAAKKUM AMMAN

McCANN INDIA, Mumbai / DHEEPAM LAMP OIL / 2021

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Overview

Credits

Overview

Why is this work relevant for Media?

The Indian state of Tamil Nadu reported the highest number of COVID cases during the peak of the pandemic.

Culture is deeply rooted in this part of India, so we identified a figure who was synonymous with keeping the people safe.

To combat this, we bought Mariamman to life with an actress known for playing mythological roles.

She went from door to door, telling residents about the importance of social distancing, wearing a mask and sanitising their hands. She also distributed masks, sanitisers and literature regarding COVID preventive measures to the people of the area.

Background

As the COVID pandemic infected over a million people in India, the southern state of Tamil Nadu reported the highest number of cases.

Awareness regarding preventive measures was low in rural regions. And these people were at great risk of being infected.

Culture is deeply rooted in these parts of the state. We wanted a cultural figure who was synonymous with keeping the people safe, to champion the fight against COVID.

Describe the creative idea / insights

Mariamman, is an extremely popular deity in South India. Millions of followers believe that she has the power to cure contagious diseases. We introduced a context of COVID to their beliefs.

We brought Mariamman to life, with a theatre and TV actress famous for playing mythological roles. In absolute theatrical fashion, she visited villages and preached the importance of wearing a mask, following social distancing and sanitising hands - while also practicing it herself. She also handed out literature regarding the same.

Describe the strategy

The rural population of Tamil Nadu were unaware of social distancing practices, the importance of wearing a mask and sanitising their hands. Dheepam lamp oil always believed in enlightening devotees, we now wanted to enlighten them on their wellbeing.

To achieve this, we chose a figure who they identified with for their wellbeing – Mariamman. They worship the deity to ward off diseases. We brought the deity to life to help them ward off a new and unfamiliar threat – COVID-19.

Describe the execution

To bring Mariamman to life, we chose the month of June when lockdown restrictions in India were slightly relaxed and people began moving about. This coincided with the annual Mariamman pandigai (festival). We chose a theatre and TV actress who was famous for portraying the role of the deity. She went from door to door, telling residents about the importance of social distancing, wearing a mask and sanitising their hands. She also distributed masks, sanitisers and literature regarding COVID preventive measures to the people of the area.

List the results

People shot videos of Mariamman visiting their homes and circulated it amongst friends and family, further spreading the preventive measures that she preached. This resulted in 19.6 million villagers getting educated about COVID and measures to prevent spreading it. With leading news outlets picking up the story of Mariamman helping people stop the spread of COVID, it resulted in $2.4 million in earned media coverage. This culminated in the number of COVID cases in rural Tamil Nadu dipping sharply in the following months.

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