McCann's 'Dumb ways to die' continues viral spread - now with over 25 million views in 9 days - fastest spreading Aussie viral video of all time

Screen shot 2012-11-19 at 7.39.13 PM.jpgDumb Ways To Die album cover.jpgUPDATED - It's been described as "the Gangnam Style of train safety" and nine days after launch, McCann's "Dumb Ways to Die" video for Metro Trains Melbourne continues its viral spread around the world at break-neck speed.

In the past 24 hours, the three-minute video added 2 million more views - coming to a total of 25 million. And it's still gathering speed.

"Dumb Ways to Die" is still the most viral video in the world - still beating Rihanna with roughly 250,000 shares of the main video yesterday. It is also generating endless positive chatter on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

The YouTube clip has attracted over 230,000 Likes and 6,000 Dislikes, and over 26,000 comments.

The song, which describes gruesome ways to die, including setting fire to your hair and standing on the edge of a train platform, was written by McCann Worldgroup Australia Executive Creative Director John Mescall, with music by Oliver McGill, keyboardist from The Cat Empire.

According to YouTube, "Dumb Ways to Die" is the fastest spreading Australian viral video of all time.

The video has also reached China, where a fan has created a subtitled version, while acoustic versions are popping up on YouTube.

Screen shot 2012-11-24 at 9.30.21 AM.jpgSays Mescall (left): "It's pretty cool to make an ad that's getting more shares than Rihanna. And even cooler that people are actually buying it off iTunes. I might be wrong, but I suspect the last time people paid money to own an ad in this country was when 'C'mon Aussie C'mon' was huge in the late '70s."

"Dumb Ways to Die" is part of a campaign for Metro Trains, which also appears in press, through a Nova radio promotion, on Tumblr, through small and large space outdoor and throughout the Metro Trains network.

The music video and song can be downloaded from the iTunes store or via, the campaign will also appear in press, through a Nova radio promotion, on Tumblr, through small and large space outdoor and right throughout the Metro Trains network.

Executive Creative Director: John Mescall
Creative Team: John Mescall, Pat Baron
Animation: Julian Frost
Digital Team: Huey Groves, Christian Stocker
Group Account Director: Adrian Mills
Account Director: Alec Hussain
Senior Account Manager: Tamara Broman
Senior Producer: Mark Bradley
Producer: Cinnamon Darvall
Composer and producer: Oliver McGill
Metro Trains
General Manager, Corporate Relations: Leah Waymark
Marketing Manager: Chloe Alsop


A jealous guy said:

Can't wait to see the awards video!
Well done McCanns!

AF said:

I was sent it this morning from Droga5 NY, so it's definitely getting attention.

Congrats to all involved.

Very cute little tune... however, the characters in this campaign are 'exactly' the same as our 'little creatures' developed for the revitalisation campaign for Dandenong, (Which ran for 3 years... Places Victoria)

It appears there's no such thing as a new idea after all. Never mind.

Never heard of you said:

Could you link this bold claim Anton. I've never heard of it and a quick search came up with fuck all so seemingly google hasn't heard of it either.

Google has heard of cute animated creatures. So, I guess you are asserting you're the first to do this?

freelancer not associated with mccann said:

hey mr lambaart,

little cute characters aren't an IDEA.

little cute characters are used all the time in all sorts of animation in ads.

it's nothing new. it's been done a million times. it's an execution.

the IDEA here was to create a message that would speak to a certain target market in a way they would listen - through an engaging SONG that also happens to have a FILMCLIP about DUMB WAYS TO DIE.

now that's original and fun.

if you're campaign wasn't about that, then sir, you have no reason to feel aggrieved.

Bridget said:

Music by Ollie McGill from the Cat Empire

Old CD Guy said:

Sounds both petty and nit-picking, Anton. Of course the illustration style isn't a world-first. But the context and the idea are. This just oozes charm. Please provide a link so we can peruse your work.

Tom Moult said:

Class work. Nice to see some attention to detail.

Malcolm McClaren said:

Fantastic result, good idea and strategy but shit its not the first time an animated cute film with catchy little tune has done this - Can Hate be Bad? Hate something change something etc. Great effort anyway.

jay furby said:

I like it .....well done john and pat and julian....and all your team.

Its an ad with a could have been a boring infomercial.....but it made me smile and didn't hit me with a sledge hammer over and over and over and over again...but made me smile about something. last a wee bit of a story. Charm its a long forgotten art.

jay furby

Popularity contest said:

You win.

Good job.

Positive Comments Only said:

Hearty congratulations to all involved.
So good to have one's socks completely charmed off.
I predict silverware, and a view of the beach at Cannes.

Dad said:

Best thing I've seen for years. Brilliant. Nice to see something that doesn't desperately try to extract humour out of geeks with beards acting like twats.

This is massive. Well done x50

Beyond Platinum said:

C'mon Aussie charted and went gold. People actually went into a record shop and bought it. (50,000+ sales)

I suspect it's a bit easier these days, not that people actually buy music anymore...

That being said I love it. Can't get the melody out of my head a veritable tattoo!

Congrats said:

Little animated hats off to animator Julian Frost. Adorable blood-letting charm at it's finest.

Top stuff Frosty.

Adam F said:

I love it.

enough said:

annoyingly brilliant

A thought said:

90 percent of people who die near trains are committing suicide. This song doesn't address that? I do love the song though.

Tom Wenborn said:

Love it,

Looking forward to the Angry Birds style game, so I can kill these little suckers myself.

commentator said:

great piece of work. Well done Mccanns and well done Metro Trains for having the balls to approve this.

great job said:

Love the concept. Love the execution. I have one question, and its not cynical, but to get that kind of trajectory of views, would something like this have been seeded?

@great job said:

No it wasn't seeded at all. No pre-rolls, not a single cent on paid media. Purely organic. seriously.

that makes me happy because it proves that creative thinking can make a difference.

Steve Dodds said:

I agree. Best thing I've seen from Australia in years. I think it's up there with Honda 'Grrrr'. Makes me proud to be an ex-McCanner.

Caught red handed... said:

Anton is right.

Well, well well Look what I found... An animated character in an ad SINGING, you hear that, Singing

Shame on McAnns.

Nothing like it said:

Anton Lambaart's work can be viewed here:

dine and dash said:

I've freelanced at Leap. If I was Anton I wouldn't be making a big noise about how great my creative was.

Fin & Jake said:


Big Al said:

That's a bit much Doddsy!

Simon said:

This ad is a triumph. Imagine all the stakeholder's who'd have to sign off on it. Imagine all the dullards who must have tried their best to kill it. There's someone with massive balls behind this work, and probably some awesome suits. Ad of the year.

Michael Linch said:

i don't know if you've noticed, but we are pushing this little viral.

Bill Withered said:

Would you have gotten the same result with some indy band song licensed from some guy in a suit that has nothing to do with the ad and an asthmatic female quirky sounding singer? Doubt it...

Royalty said:

So who gets the money from the iTunes downloads and YouTube views?

Don said:

I'll drink to that.

b said:

Even the Russian subtitled version has had over 17,500 hits.

Guy who engraves names on Gold One Show Pencils said:

Might as well get a head start, shall I?

reanimated said:

Hold on, so if there is creative that involves animation, cute characters and fun music to match then it has been done before or is a stolen idea.

*@$#%^! me time to start burning your books if you have work that may even resemble those executions in any way and pray no one ever finds out.

Great work to all involved, nice to see it doing well and grats on anything you will win.

What's the actual idea? said:

Ok, so we wrote a song and made a neat little music video using a famous muso and some happy tree friend style animation.

It's like those 'don't do drugs' songs from 80s bands or 'we are the world'.

I love it, but would one of the McCanns posters on here finish this sentence.

The idea is ...... ?

Not sure how it will stand up in award shows, given the grand prix winner for film last year is pretty similar.

err. said:

...there is no dumber way to die than being hit by a train?

Meh said:

Finally something great out of Aussie this year, apart from Doug Pitt its been a lean one.

Nowehere near Melbourne or McCanns said:

@What the actual idea?

The "idea" is in the chorus:

Act irresponsibly near trains and you could end up dead – and this is a dumb way to die.

Are you sure you're supposed to be working in advertising?

Car Pool said:

Classic bloody Mescall.

Great stuff.

Like it a lot said:

I think it's genius but the fellow who says "What's the idea?" does have a point.

A message and an idea, Nowhere Near Melbourne or McCanns, are two different things.

(Or at least they used to be. And that's not meant facetiously.)

glad to see we can agree on something said:

Nice to see the ad industry can agree to universally love something.

Congratulations to all involved.

Head Like a Friggin Watermelon said:

Do I have to explain everything? The idea, for the mentally challenged blogger at 8:28am, is that in the spirit of the Darwin Awards which celebrate deaths due to stupidity there are many many avoidable ways for the hard-of-thinking to die. Including around trains. Clearly 8:28 you are so dumb you can't figure that out. Presumably therefore you will meet your end in some extraordinarily dumb way, and frankly the sooner the better.

JP said:

Well done Metro.

A quote from illustrator Julian Frost on his website.

"A round of applause for the client, Metro, whose feedback included “make it more violent!” and “add a piranha to his private parts please”."

congrats said:

metro, the client creative agencies dream of...right now in the long board room in clems, a certain creative chairman forms a triangle with his hands, tapping his fingers together gently. he narrows his eyes slightly, and whispers 'soon'.

Greidy said:

Winsome is right.

Well done John and team.

Razor said:

This thing is getting out of control. I can see a range of soft toys coming up, and tee-shirts for the kiddies of their favourite 'dumb' act...

Glenn Beck said:

I think this guy has the second-most listened to show in the US. Plays the full song and talks about rail safety for 12 minutes. Melbourne's showing the world...

Am I naive? said:

Is this now Australia's best viral ad ever?

Get a grip people. You're supposed to know this stuff. So here's what I said:

The idea is not a song.
The idea is not animated characters.
The idea is not the dude from Cat Empire.
These are the execution.

The idea is not the message.
The idea is not that there are stupid ways to die.
These are the outtake.

The idea is "what if we used an alternative way to get people to listen to a safety warning? What if we didn't show gore? But did. What if we made it funny. What if we made it charming. Steeped in the style of children's education, but made for adults. And if it was interesting and entertaining and charming and likeable enough, people would listen and share it without really realising that the safety message was sinking in. So the next time they stood on a platform, they might just take a little step back."

That's what makes it a good idea. And all the first points make it a great execution. And if people recall the song and change their behaviour at the right instant (which I think many may actually do), it will be effective.

Razor said:

Well said 'Get a grip'. It's about time these basic points were mentioned again in this business. We seem to have lost the magic of a beautiful positioning and strategy well executed.
Top marks to all involved (including the planner, if there was one...)

Cancel the bat-monkeys! said:

Can we please not have to hear about this campaign tomorrow?

I know it's 15 years since McCann's have done anything remotely interesting, but just cause it's ya birthday, no reason to carry on like an ass.

Thanks guys, and let's keep it at 'well done' – not 'over done'.

Meh said:

I don't get what all the fuss is about. The animation's pretty similar to someone else's, the songs pretty average and deriv, and it's all been done for years by Southpark and the like.
On top of that it's a viral, it's not some great idea the client put on TV.
Don't get me wrong, it's a bit of fun, but it;s not the great messiah of campaigns that it seems to be lauded as.
Is advertising so bereft of great ideas nowdays that something run of the mill like this seems to be genius by comparison? A few years ago, this wouldn't have gotten a second look, and I call bullshit that it wasn't seeded and all the youtube views are legit form people with nothing to do with it. FFS I can buy a few million youtube views online with paypal for anything I want.

yep said:

Yes 1:01, I'm sure that's exactly how they pitched the "idea" to the client.

Please let this be the end of it said:

If you stood in front of the client and said:

"what if we used an alternative way to get people to listen to a safety warning? What if we didn't show gore? But did. What if we made it funny. What if we made it charming. Steeped in the style of children's education, but made for adults. And if it was interesting and entertaining and charming and likeable enough, people would listen and share it without really realising that the safety message was sinking in. So the next time they stood on a platform, they might just take a little step back."

The response would be: "Yeah, but what's the idea?"

And you'd go: "Oh yeah, sorry. Getting hit by a train is a dumb way to die."

Simon B. said:

I still don't get it.

@meh said:

185,000 likes and topping the charts for most-shared video in the world tells us that your little theory of them magically 'buying' youtube views is full of shit.

you know when you see vids with like 400,000 views and 30 likes? Those views are mostly from pre-rolls: purchased views that maybe aren't really proper views at all.

you can't cheat the viral charts - they measure the numbers of times a vid has been shared. like it or not, this fucker's gone viral in a very big way.

old bloke said:

@freelance not associated with mccann. As long as you don't confuse original with first.

I love this ad and congratulations to all that made it and made it happen. I think that its a great idea and I'm sure not of the people involved grew up in Perth in the 70's so they'll be surprised and delighted to see this one.

Jingle, animation, danger, death

planning said:

Hey 1:01,

Disarm. Engage. Entertain. That's a strategy. Make a South Park like song about dumb ways to die - that's an idea. And a bloody good one at that.

SB Shickuwazza sauce said:


Thump your fist on the table a few more times and you might get it.


@What’s the actual idea? said:

But he won Carl, he won!

hallelujah said:

lets just get over the politics and celebrate the magic. It just works.
But more importantly, to Metro for going with it. The bureaucracy of the government could have canned it before it saw the light of day. We need more brave clients like this.

Jack Russell said:

Yes, it works. It's lovely and its immensely catchy and all that stuff.

But now, after more than a week of it out there, can we do without the constant bumping on here?

harold holt said:

You guys make me laugh...10 million, what a joke. South Korean rapper Psy's Gangnam Style has become most-watched YouTube video of all time with more than 805 million views.

yeah but said:

psy didn't have to make an ad about rail safety did he?
slight advantage to south korea there

yawn said:

Seriously, who gives a shit. Metro are with out doubt the most consistently disappointing company in the entire country; not a day goes by without them letting us down with cancellations, failures and delays, not to mention the 1.3 BILLION dollars spent on a new ticketing system that still doesnt work, resulting in massive increases in ticket prices, gestapo ticket checkers with exorbitant fines... they do one cool ad and suddenly we care about them?

If metro really had balls they'd take a look in the mirror and do something about the shoddy service they provide.

@yawn said:

hey crazy ranting dude,
the state government gave us that shitty ticketing system. metro just run the trains.

rants are better when the facts are straight.

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