Australia’s fastest-spreading viral video “Dumb Ways to Die” has amassed over 28 million views (I personally am responsible for at least 150 in San Diego, CA) on YouTube since it was posted on November 14. The clip was created by McCann World Group Australia to promote safety on Melbourne Metro Trains. This clever safety message sneaks up on you and doesn’t hit you over the head.
The dark humor is delivered with joy and by the end you are mimicking the dance and singing the song. You don’t even know it is an advertising message. That is what makes it so great! As a media professional, my first thought after watching this was, “Wow. I wish I was in the pitch meeting for this ad campaign.”
Imagine sitting across from your transit client, who generally is comfortable with a controlled message approach and telling them that in order to reach their targeted younger demo with the message they need to take a radical approach using a catchy tune; not a preach or teach PSA commercial and use only web tools such as Tumblr, Pinterest and Reddit to get the message out. McCann says their goal was to get young people talking (and even singing) about rail safety.
They knew their audience wouldn’t respond to a TV commercial and that they hate being told what to do. This is a perfect example of what happens when you have the right medium, message and creative concept for your target. You get a global campaign which has generated over $50 million in earned value, you are on young people’s iTunes playlists, people are singing your song at karaoke bars and ultimately you are becoming a part of pop culture – all in two weeks! That is less time then it would take a traditional TV campaign to ramp up.
Normally, we are mostly discontent with the campaigns we create in advertising, but with the Internet beginning to reach its full potential, it is continually changing the rules and the options for companies to reach people. It is a fun time to be in advertising as we look to creating content people (not media companies) push out to our audience.
Group Media Director