McCann Melbourne’s client, Metro Trains, challenged the agency to engage at-risk young people who were most likely to become injured in or near a Metro Train station. The client asked the agency to ensure that young people paid attention to, and hopefully then talked about, a safety message. The agency designed Dumb Ways to Die so that it would be instantly likeable, and importantly, shareable. First, they created a music video that was funny, irreverent and that featured a very catchy theme song, designed to inspire sharing. Next, Melbourne leaked the campaign to a trusted journalist to seed a positive story idea: that McCann is pushing boundaries rather than sticking to tired, safe formulas. The press release was issued in Australia, Asia Pacific and global creative distribution on Friday, November 16, 2012.
The agency understood that early adopters would be key to success, so they we amplified shareability by creating .gifs from the video animation and shared them via a Tumblr. The creatives believe this was the main reason DWTD made Reddit’s front page over the launch weekend. After writing the first comment on the YouTube video, providing the links to buy the song on iTunes or listen/download via Soundcloud, McCann Melbourne resisted the usual temptation to talk about the campaign in the media, on its social media channels, or through its press relations. The agency did not engage in the online commentary in any way and have continued to be entirely non-interventional. This freedom has allowed people to create multiple translations that have facilitated growth throughout Asia, Europe and South America.
McCann Melbourne is hyper-conscious about maintaining the dignity and integrity of the campaign, and the agency, and have therefore rejected any initiative that may create a perception that McCann is trying to monetize the campaign, or its elements.