Metro Trains Digital, Viral, Case study Dumb Ways To Die, 17 by McCann Erickson Melbourne

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Dumb Ways To Die, 17

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Industry Public Transport, Mass Transit
Media Digital, Interactive & Mobile, Viral, Case study
Market Australia
Agency McCann Erickson Melbourne
Creative Director Pat Baron
Copywriter John Mescall
Producer Cinnamon Darvall
Released June 2013


Cannes Lions 2013
Promo and Activation Lions Product & Service; Public Health & Safety, Public Awareness Messages Gold
Direct Lions Product & Service; Public Health & Safety, Public Awareness Messages Gold
Promo and Activation Lions Use of Promo & Activation; Best use of Social Media Marketing in a Promotional Campaign Gold

Credits & Description

Type of entry: Product & Service
Category: Public Health & Safety, Public Awareness Messages
Advertiser: METRO TRAINS
Product/Service: METRO TRAINS
Executive Creative Director: John Mescall (McCann)
Creative Director: Pat Baron (McCann)
Group Account Director: Adrian Mills (McCann)
Senior Account Director: Alec Hussain (McCann)
Copywriter: John Mescall (McCann)
Senior Account Manager: Tamara Broman (McCann)
Strategy: Adrian Mills (McCann)
Senior Producer: Mark Bradley (McCann)
Producer: Cinnamon Darvall (McCann)
Composer And Producer: Oliver McGill ()
Digital: Huey Groves (McCann)
Digital: Christian Stocker (McCann)
Animation: Julian Frost ()
Marketing Manager: Chloe Alsop (Metro Trains)
General Manager/Corporate Relations: Leah Waymark (Metro Trains)
Senior Art Director: Pat Baron (McCann)
Describe the brief from the client
Metro Trains had four primary objectives:
1. Reduce train related accidents in key accident areas by 10% over 12 months.
2. Generate a stated commitment to be safe around trains from our core target of 5% (40,000 pledges) over 12 months (ABS 2012, Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia).
3. Generate campaign awareness of 25% in the core target.
4. Generate buzz (social, public relations) for the campaign to multiply the campaign budget by 5%.

Creative Execution

Dumb Ways to Die used a radical approach to public safety messaging. By using entertainment rather than shock tactics, we were able to engage a young audience wired to resist lectures and warnings from authorities.
And given the importance of peer-to-peer recommendations in behavioural change, this approach meant that young people would actively share the safety message amongst themselves, rather than simply mocking it as they would usually do.

Creative Solution to the Brief/Objective.

Dumb Ways to Die was an integrated direct campaign that used entertaining content to reposition being unsafe around trains as the dumbest way to die. We didn’t preach, we didn’t threaten, and we didn’t lecture.
Branded content was designed to raise awareness of train safety and get it on the agenda. But every element of the campaign directed people to pledge to be safe around trains: we wanted to get users of Melbourne’s Metro system to actively invest in changing their behavior.


Before spending a dollar on media, the music video received over 20 million YouTube views. The song had charted on iTunes in 28 countries, and made the top 10 in several. Over 3million Facebook shares made it the most shared PSA in history.
The website is nearing its millionth pledge to be safe. In post-testing, 39% of our core audience said they would act safer around trains because of the campaign. For the three months post-launch (the most recent data), Metro experienced a 21% reduction in accidents and deaths in key accident areas compared to the same time last year.