McCann's 'Dumb Ways to Die' campaign makes a clean sweep of Sirens radio awards in Sydney

john and pat-thumb-400x298-105071.jpgMcCann Melbourne's "Dumb Ways to Die" campaign for Metro Trains has made a clean sweep of this morning's 2013 Siren Awards, announced today at a breakfast in Sydney.

The "Set Fire to Your Hair" spot, written by John Mescall (near left) and Pat Baron (far left), won both the Gold Siren and Silver Siren, as well as being a part of campaign of the year.

The campaign includes three spots: "Set Fire to your Hair", "Sell Both Your Kidneys" and "Eat a Tube of Superglue".

The campaign gained worldwide viral momentum when it was launched in November last year. Within 24 hours of its release, the song was in the top 10 on the iTunes chart and a video released on YouTube was reportedly viewed 28 million times within two weeks.
IMG_1541.jpgAccording to Metro Trains, the "Dumb Ways to Die" campaign contributed to a more than 30% reduction in "near-miss" accidents, in the three months between November 2012 and January this year.

Judge, Brad Grisaffe from Audiobrien said about the winning spot: "Everyone loves a catchy song:  clever lyrics with a strong message and a simple melody that you just can't get out of your head...the benchmark for pop success!   In this case, all the right elements for great radio advertising. Once you hear it, you won't forget fact, you'll probably be thinking about the message while singing it in the shower".

Judge, Paul Le Couteur from Flagstaff Studios said: "Sometimes we just need the obvious stated before we get things.  "Dumb Ways" manages to charm its simple message through the ether and really get in your head.  If you're going to do music, do it well.  Yep, tick.  Humour, charm, communication and cut through ....tick, tick, tick, tick!"

Says co-writer and executive director of McCann, John Mescall: "We knew that people didn't want to hear our message at all. It's rail safety. Not only do young people not care about safety messages, but we know that they actively tune out these kinds of messages.

"So our idea was to embed our rail safety message into a song: a piece of content so desirable, that our audience would not only willingly listen to it, but if we put it on iTunes, maybe actually pay money to own it. I guess the inspiration was to make a radio ad that was nothing like a radio ad, but a lot more like the content on either side of the ads: the music.

"We tried to make a radio ad that was nothing like a traditional radio ad. It's a song first and foremost with a subtle but unmistakable message embedded into it. The fact that a lot of radio stations around the world have chosen to play the 3 minute version of our ad for free, as part of their music programming, tells us that we may well have pulled it off."

Chief executive of Commercial Radio Australia, Joan Warner said it was rare to win both the single and campaign categories at Sirens, which was a testament to the effectiveness and impact of the campaign.

"This campaign also highlights how well radio combines with other media, particularly the internet, to engage the audience and get a message across. It really exemplifies the strength of good radio advertising."

The winning writers will receive airfares, accommodation and tickets to this year's Cannes Advertising Festival, to be held next month. The client, Metro Trains Melbourne, also wins a trip to Cannes and the festival.

The "Dumb Ways to Die" campaign also won the 2013 Siren Client Award, the best ad voted by a judging panel made up of clients, with the writers receiving a cash prize of $5000.

The national Siren Awards, now in its ninth year, are run by Commercial Radio Australia and are designed to recognise the best radio advertising in the country. A winner is announced in three categories: single, campaign and craft, which receive Silver Sirens as well as an overall winner which receives the Gold Siren. The awards are judged by the Siren Council, comprised of creative directors and producers from leading advertising agencies and studios throughout Australia.

The Silver Siren winner for the craft category was an ad for anti-bullying organisations, including Bullying No Way, Project Rockit and Reach Out, called "Earphone Bully", produced by sound engineers, Ralph van Dijk and Michael Bates, from production studio, Eardrum in Sydney.

Today's breakfast was hosted by Mix FM's drive time host, Tim Ross.

2013 Siren Award winners

Siren Awards 2013 Overall Category Winner (Gold Siren)
(also winner of 2013 Single Category)
Agency: McCann Melbourne
Creative Team: John Mescall & Pat Baron
Client: Metro Trains Melbourne
Commercial Title: "Set Fire to Your Hair"

Siren Awards 2013 Single Category Winner (Silver Siren)
Agency: McCann Melbourne
Creative Team: John Mescall & Pat Baron
Client: Metro Trains Melbourne
Commercial Title: "Set Fire to Your Hair"

Siren Awards 2013 Campaign Category Winner (Silver Siren)
(also winner of the Client Award - cash prize)
Agency: McCann Melbourne
Creative Team: John Mescall & Pat Baron
Client: Metro Trains Melbourne
Commercial Title: "Dumb Ways to Die" includes ads: "Set Fire to Your Hair", "Sell Both Your Kidneys", "Eat a Tube of Superglue")

Siren Awards 2013 Craft Category Winner (Silver Siren)
Sound Engineers: Ralph van Dijk & Michael Bates
Production Studio: Eardrum, Sydney
Client: Anti-bullying organisations, including Bullying No Way, Project Rockit and Reach Out
Campaign Title: "Earphone Bully"

(Pictured: 1. Pat Baron and John Mescall; 2. Chloe Alsop, marketing manager at Metro Trains, Adrian Mills, account director at McCann and Leah Waymark, GM corporate relations, Metro Trains).


jack Russell said:

Congrats John and Pat. Another set of well-deserved baubles to add to the trophy cabinet.

And what a surprise, Ralph bobbed up grasping something too.

Razor said:

Great result.
Also, well done to Ollie McGill for the original music track.
You all deserve gongs for the lives you may have saved.

anonymouse said:


*strokes chin*

Next said:

I am so over hearing about this campaign.

@Next said:

Well, just do one that's better and then everyone will be talking about yours instead.

Leave a comment