On July 8, 2020, Supriya Sahu IAS, currently posted as Principal Secretary and Managing Director of The Tamil Nadu Small Tea Growers’ Industrial Cooperative Tea Factories’ Federation Limited in Coonoor, tweeted a piece of news citing the Tamil daily Dinamalar, and The Hindu.
After her tweet, the news went massively viral and found itself in a second wave, with a lot more publications covering the news.
In fact, observe how the news has become viral after starting from mainstream media.
Sivan’s life and story first made it to The Hindu in 2016! The line Supriya uses, “chased by wild elephants… bears, gaurs and snakes as he crosses slippery forest streams and waterfalls” is from the 2016 article!
Her tweet also mentions that D.Sivan retired “last week”, implying ‘early July 2020’. But a follow-up, post-viral story by The Hindu clarifies that he retired in March 2020!
Even India Post woke up a day after her tweet to clarify the accurate date of Sivan’s retirement!
And the scale of virality? (click on the image to see a larger version)
This is a story that deserves the virality given the sheer grit, perseverance and effort of the man.
What is particularly impressive is the contextual newsjacking effort by Dabur, for their product Rheumatil. Rheumatil is an ayurvedic medicine for joint pain.
After the news of D.Sivan went viral, it looks like Dabur observed the story from the angle of his ‘walking’ – that’s the crux of the viral story, about how we walked all those miles and miles to deliver letters because the terrain he was working in was not suitable for riding or driving any kind of vehicle.
Dabur’s ode to D.Sivan is very well done – in Tamil, where he himself speaks, with English subtitles, to extend the reach. Dabur does not force him to sell their product. Even when he talks about the aches and pains caused by walking, he closes that line of thought with, “I get over those pains because of the gratitude and happiness shown by people when they get the letters”, and “The only way to get over the pains is to make walking a habit”.
The Dabur Rheumatil logo appears at the 38th second and stays throughout the video in the top right corner, without directing us to think of anything specific. The penultimate line says,
“Joint pains can limit your walking, but should not limit your journeys.
Age, excessive walking or physical activity can lead to joint pain or muscular strain“
The final screen simply offers,
“Dabur Rheumatil has been serving and taking care of joint pains for the last 25+ years“
There is no direct implication, in standard advertising-style, that D.Sivan’s feat was made possible by Dabur’s product, nor does he endorse the product in any way in the video.
Dabur’s Rheumatil, as a product known for, and associated with, joint pains, takes an almost journalistic frame to tell the story of a man who has been successfully walking for his profession for 30 years.
This is newsjacking done extremely well. From the viral tweet to the execution of this video, this is a swift and efficient production as well!