Being from Melbourne, Australia, I keep a cursory eye on Australian campaigns. That, along with my facebook feed being a mix of Australians and Americans meant I was surprised when I first heard of Dumb Ways to Die from a colleague here in Seattle. It’s a train safety campaign for Metro, created by McCann Worldgroup Australia.
Even while the campaign’s awards were piling up, nothing appeared in my facebook feed. I started questioning the campaign’s effectiveness. Surely it was more than a catchy jingle.
Last week I was in Melbourne (the home of Metro) and discovered why. The people it resonated with are too young for facebook. An eleven year-old has the app on her iPod and offered to let me play it (it’s not in the US iTunes store). I asked a four year-old which was his favorite character and he quoted the entire line of the character crossing the tracks.
Accompanying the youtube video (above) and game was a picture book, mural walls at major stations encouraging people to take photos with the characters, karaoke screens on station platforms, posters, a paid radio campaign and the song on iTunes internationally. All were driving viewers to pledge to act safe around trains.
Even though the video went viral and the song shot up the iTunes charts, was the campaign a success? Yes, it was. A 21% reduction in train-related accidents and deaths was recorded on the previous year. Without that result, it doesn’t matter how many radio stations played the song or photos were shared on Instagram, the goals wouldn’t have been met.
Congratulations and well done to Metro and McCann Worldgroup Australia. But, may I please have a plushy of the character who sold his kidneys on the internet? He’s adorable. I’ll send you my address.