One of the most innovative advertising campaigns that took a different turn was the ‘Dumb Ways to Die’ campaign by Metro Trains in Melbourne.
So how did this all start?
The youngsters of Melbourne, Australia had been rather careless about their behaviour around the metro trains. The city had witnessed quite a few injuries and deaths due to the absent minded behaviour of travellers in metro stations. It was time to create some awareness about safety around these trains. But the communication had to be quirky, innovative and different to actually reach these youngsters.
That’s when McCann stepped in and decided to switch from an advertising model to a content based model as these youngsters had clearly become immune to traditional advertising. They told themselves they should create something ‘as good as the stuff people are buying on iTunes’.
What did they do?
First Step – The Video
McCann Melbourne and Metro Trains produced and released a music video named “Dumb ways to Die” which had cute and funny characters dying in the weirdest and most ridiculous of ways. This video ended saying dying in the Metro Rails was one of the dumbest ways to die.
This video was a shareable piece of content and was followed by a karaoke version. The original video was brought out with a single reporter of one of Melbourne’s prominent newspapers.
Followed By – Other Promotions
After the video launch, the agency developed a lot more interesting and innovative content in the form of GIFs and a song for everyone to download on iTunes. The campaign was also featured on Reddit’s front page. The main aim was to create interesting and shareable content so the message would spread on its own.
The agency also put up messages through few forms of traditional media like posters just in case the campaign did not go viral and they could still communicate to the local community.
All this was followed by a game on smartphones where users had to save the characters from dumb ways of dying and a children’s book and plush toys with the characters from the music video.
A website was put up that prompted people to take up a pledge to be safer and not do dumb things around metros.
Radio stations soon picked up the song and broadcast it.
After a point, people themselves started uploading their own versions of the song. The agency and client no longer had to pump in content. The society had taken over.
The Final Results
This campaign was extremely successful. The number of views on YouTube today are 142,912,656 views. The game had then become the No 1 free app across 21 countries including USA, Canada, UK, Australia, Germany among others. In just six weeks, the campaign claimed an approximate of $60 million in earned media. The campaign stormed the Cannes Lions 2013 Festival of Creativity.
The campaign also served its actual purpose and the city reported to see a 21% decrease in metro accidents post the campaign.
The agency still keeps the game updated and releases video with themes like Valentine’s Day, Christmas or April Fools but with the central message of rail safety.