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Dumb Ways to Die is an animated music video created as part of a public service announcement campaign for the Australian suburban railway network Metro Trains Melbourne by the McCann advertising agency. The video used black humor to promote train safety featuring a variety of cartoon characters dying in unusual ways.
Written by John Mescall and performed by Ollie McGill from the Australian ska and jazz band The Cat Empire, the “Dumb Ways to Die” music video was uploaded via YouTube on November 14th, 2012 and similar campaign illustrations appeared on newspapers, local radio and outdoor advertising throughout the Metro Trains network. The video features cartoon characters killing themselves in a variety of careless and absurd ways (shown below). Within two weeks, the video accumulated over 28.7 million views and 35,000 comments. It is available for purchase on the iTunes store, where it holds a five star rating as of November 29th, 2012.
The day after its release, Redditor Mach5Stealthz submitted the music video to the /r/videossubreddit, where it received over 10,900 up votes and 800 comments within 13 days. On the following day, the advertising news blog Australian Creative published an article titled “McCann’s dumb ways to die,” which quoted McCann Melbourne’s executive creator director describing the purpose of the campaign:
“This campaign is designed to draw people to the safety message, rather than frighten them away. Especially in our younger segments. We want to create a lasting understanding that you shouldn’t take risks around trains, that the prospect of death or serious injury is ever-present and that we as a community need to be aware of what constitutes both safe and dumb behaviour.”
On November 18th, the video was posted on the Internet humor site 9gag, where it received over 37,000 Facebook shares and 27,000 up votes within 10 days. On November 19th, The Age published an article titled “Metro’s tongue-in-cheek transport safety animated video goes viral on social media,” which reported that the song had reached the top 10 on iTunes. On November 22nd, Redditor raeflower submitted a post titled “So many dumb ways to die [FA]” to the /r/RedditLaqueristas subreddit, which featured several photographs of nail art inspired by the animated music video (shown below).
On November 29th, The Sydney Morning Herald published a post titled “Aussie viral video, ‘Dumb Ways to Die’, lives on,” reporting that the video had inspired “more than 65 cover versions, 85 parodies and 170 re-posts on YouTube.”
Cool Things to Find
On November 28th, the LaughPong YouTube channel uploaded a Mars rover inspired parody titled “Cool Things to Find” (shown below). The following day the video was submitted to the /r/videos subreddit by Redditor kallekro. Within 24 hours, the YouTube video accumulated over 145,000 views and 390 comments and within 9 hours the Reddit post received over 4,500 upvotes and 295 comments.