“ITUKAMA,” the “Hero” and the Nation: A specific textual analysis of a commercial and its contribution to Sri Lankan society amid Covid-19


  • S.V.W. Udugahapattuwa University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka
  • R.M. Wijayawardhana University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka
  • G.A.R.C. Jayarathna University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka
  • H.R.D.F.G.A. Weerakoon Open University of Sri Lanka




Purpose: This study focuses on the Itukama commercial launched by the Itukama project under the Presidential Secretariat. The commercial was a campaign to raise funds for the Itukama COVID-19 Healthcare and Social Security Fund. The campaign was considered a success. The commercial appealed to a sense of duty and responsibility in the Nation's people by carefully narrating the building of a new hero of sorts, placing them side by side with existing heroes. The study aims to analyse the commercial elements of the campaign in order to identify the process of the creation of the/a hero(s), the necessity therein at the time, how it aided in the national agenda, and the choices of inclusion and exclusion by virtue of the use of theories of nation-building.

Design/methodology/approach: The study uses the methodology of textual analysis thereby providing a close reading of the commercial and the campaign in relation to the said theories.

Findings: Through the analysis, it was made evident that while the commercial and the campaign that followed crafted a new definition for the concept of ‘hero’ and located it within the context of the ‘nation’ it was lacking in inclusivity. 

Originality:  Analysis of a COVID-19  commercial (campaign) in the Sri Lankan context is the pioneering study in Sri Lanka.

Implications: Language use in commercials and the concept of ‘hero’ and ‘nation’ provide a lesson for the relevant corporates.

Keywords: COVID-19, Hero, Nation, Representation, Sri Lankan Commercials, Visualisation