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Dumb Ways to Die - A Brilliantly Entertaining Safety Campaign

In this case study, we delve into the success story of "Dumb Ways to Die," a creative safety campaign that aimed to address the rising number of accidental deaths on Australian railroads. Targeting Australian youth aged 20-30, the campaign recognized the need to engage this demographic with entertaining and humorous content. Leveraging various channels, including YouTube, iTunes, social media, and mobile apps, the campaign featured a captivating animated video and a catchy song. We will explore how this campaign achieved extraordinary results, garnering millions of shares, accolades from global media outlets, and becoming an iconic safety campaign worldwide.


Understanding the Objective

The main objective of the "Dumb Ways to Die" campaign was to address the increasing number of accidental deaths on Australian railroads. The target audience consisted of Australian youth aged 20-30, who were often unresponsive to traditional safety messages. To successfully engage this demographic, the campaign adopted an insightful approach by understanding their aversion to being told what to do. Instead, the strategy was to present safety information in an entertaining and humorous manner, making it relatable and shareable among the target audience.


Leveraging Multiple Channels

The "Dumb Ways to Die" campaign effectively used various channels to reach its target audience. The centerpiece of the campaign was a captivating animated video that instantly gained popularity on YouTube, going viral and amassing millions of views. Additionally, the catchy song "Dumb Ways to Die" was released on iTunes and played on Australian radio stations, further spreading the safety message.

Creative Execution

The campaign's creative execution included broadcasting the animated video on TV screens in subway stations across Australia, capturing the attention of commuters. To reinforce the message, a book with humorous illustrations and safety messages was published, engaging both young readers and adults. The campaign also expanded into the gaming world with the creation of the "Dumb Ways to Die" mobile app, providing an interactive and enjoyable way for users to learn about safety precautions.

Screenshots from the Dumb Ways to Die smartphone game (Metro Trains, 2013)

Unprecedented Results

The "Dumb Ways to Die" campaign achieved remarkable success. It garnered one million safety commitments on its website, becoming one of the most widely shared campaigns globally. Social media played a crucial role, with over three million shares on Facebook, 100,000 on Twitter, and more than 2,000 blog posts referencing the campaign. The campaign's animated video secured the third spot in the list of the most viral advertisements of all time. It was released on iTunes in 28 countries and received widespread coverage on 750 global media outlets.

Dumb Ways to Die sky-rocketed up the iTunes charts (iTunes, 2012)

The Campaign's Legacy

The impact of the "Dumb Ways to Die" campaign extended beyond its initial success. It was played for free in subway stations worldwide, used as an educational tool in schools, and inspired over 200 cover versions of the catchy song on YouTube, showcasing its enduring popularity and legacy.


Conclusion

The "Dumb Ways to Die" campaign stands as a shining example of how creativity, humor, and an insightful understanding of the target audience can revolutionize safety campaigns. By combining a captivating animated video, an engaging song, and strategic use of multiple channels, the campaign successfully reached and resonated with Australian youth. The extraordinary results, widespread recognition, and lasting impact make "Dumb Ways to Die" a timeless and iconic safety campaign celebrated worldwide.

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