When Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayana was first telecast on Doordarshan in 1987, for roughly thirty-five minutes every Sunday, at 9.30 am, India came to a standstill. Everyone stayed home watching Ramayana. Today, when everything is at a standstill, India is watching Ramayana again. The show’s re-run became the world’s most-watched show on April 16, 2020 with 7.7 crore viewers!

To understand this phenomenon and find lessons for marketeers, we have to marry the emotional environment today with the gratifications a show like Ramayana provides

1. Focus on Communication themes that reduce mental dissonance the consumers are feeling currently

Today , there is an overwhelming sense of fear and anxiety that engulfs us all- fear of the virus, fear of infection, fear of loneliness, financial problems because of the lockdown, managing home, work and children – something or the other is bogging everyone down. In this context, Ramayana provides a sense of safety – a throwback to a time when all was right with the world. For some time every day, we get to feel that cocoon again.

2. Tools that offer enhancement of self-image connects strongly with consumers

With schools being closed, parents have to take the onus of educating children on all types of subjects. Ramayana, a great Indian epic that promotes the importance of good values, responsibilities, and other virtues that parents can tap into. Even if a parent might not be able to help their child with schoolwork at this time, they can certainly show them Ramayana and enhance their self-image of a good parent

3. Empathising with the consumers’ struggle and provide hope leads to strong connect

Connecting through context that is relevant  All of us today are living inside a “Laxman Rekha”, some of us away from their loved ones (vanvaas), fighting the evil that the Coronavirus is. The issues highlighted in the epic find easy parallels in  the environment today and gives the consumers the hope that eventually, the good shall prevail over the evil

4. Rituals help reduce anxiety and
foster a sense of purpose

The first time around, watching Ramayana was almost a sacred ritual. There were reports of people taking a bath before watching the show, taking off shoes and covering their heads as well as a mark of devotion!  At this point, life lacks structure. The daily timetable that consumers were used to no longer applies. With Ramayana running at a fixed hour every day, helps get some sense of structure back in life

5. Customer engagement flourishes in a positive, optimistic state of mind

The need of the hour is of positivity and acceptance which the show’s tonality and messaging delivers in spades. Evil will be vanquished one day and we will all be free – the eternal hope that needs to remain alive among the people is the key content of the Ramayana