Dumb Ways to Die

Dumb Ways to Die

A twisted cartoon that helps train passengers dodge death.

by Melbourne Metro Rail

See the full experience

The Story

Accident rates on the Melbourne Metro were rising, largely due to an increase in risky behavior around trains. But a rail safety message was the last thing our audience wanted to hear and traditional public safety messages just don't work on young people: tell them to do one thing and they'll do the opposite. So we had to turn a message that people needed to hear into a message that people wanted to hear. The way we did it was to embed our message into awesomely entertaining content.

  • Dumb Ways to Die
  • Dumb Ways to Die

From day one, everything about this campaign was designed to be inherently spreadable via social technologies. The main digital channels used were Tumblr, YouTube, Soundcloud, iTunes and a microsite. The three-minute video lived on YouTube. The video was reimagined as 21 animated GIFs on Tumblr. These GIFs created huge and immediate viral effect, driving traffic to both YouTube and our microsite. Once on YouTube, people were given a series of links: they could purchase the song on iTunes, download it for free via Soundcloud, visit our website and get free GIFs off our Tumblr site.

The Technology

  • Tumblr
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Blogs
  • RSS
  • Website

The Results

Launch date: November 14, 2012

Within two weeks, the main video had over 20 million YouTube views. Within a month, it was the sixth most shared ad of all time. The song reached the Top 10 on the iTunes charts in several countries, got downloaded hundreds of thousands of times via Soundcloud and is still on rotation on radio station playlists. Schools worldwide adopted the campaign material for classroom use. There are now nearly 100 cover versions of the video on YouTube and it’s still spreading. Importantly, early results are showing a 20% reduction in accidents and near-misses on the Melbourne Metro. The key to its success is the fact that a worthy message has been embedded into content of such high quality that people are actually paying money to purchase it. To be truly sharable, that’s how good your content must be.


million YouTube views


million shares


very brave client

The Team

McCann Worldgroup
  • John Mescall, Executive Creative Director/Writer
  • Pat Baron, Art Director
  • Julian Frost, Animation

Think w/Google APAC on LinkedIn

Join a community of digital thought leaders and be inspired.