Dumb Ways to Die

Safety Around Trains


Dumb Ways to Die is a viral marketing campaign made by Metro Trains Melbourne that aims to make people act more safe around trains. The main feature of the campaign is a YouTube video displaying dumb ways to die. The video presents animated figures who dies in “humorous” ways such as “invite a
psycho killer inside” or “take your helmet off in outer space” and ends on a more serious note with the actual message of being safe around trains and not cross railways and similar actions. The video plays a lot on the viewers’ emotional appeal and incorporates a lot of humor into the video as well as the
other parts of the campaign. Metro uses a rather different way of approaching the subject of safety by using humor instead of cautionary examples which is a great way of cutting through the clutter and actually create awareness around the message they’re trying to convey. However Metro also faces a great challenge by using humor for a campaign advocating a pretty serious matter since the actual part of action might be disregarded and “taken too lightly”.

The Campaign

Dumb Ways to Die is a campaign started by Metro Trains Melbourne. The campaign uses several social media tools; a three minute long YouTube video, radio promotions, Tumblr, website, Facebook, Twitter, iTunes and ads with the lyrics and images from the video. The message that Metro tries to convey through this campaign is safety, for people to be more careful and aware of their behavior around trains and railways.

This campaign is making a serious subject easier to receive by incorporating humor into the different communication tools used. They get people whom normally wouldn’t be receptive to the “safety-message” engaged by not approaching the subject in the normal way of scary facts, images or videos of what might happen in a train accident. By taking a more humorous approach to the subject Metro is able to reach the younger audience who might not be as receptive to the “safety-message” since a big part of the young culture is to rebel against authority and the precautionary examples.

The campaign uses more of an emotional appeal than a rational appeal. Thevideo isn’t so serious in its nature using animated figures and humorous waysof portraying the different ways to die rather than showing how it really happens. Fear is often used as an emotional appeal to persuade people to buy
something or take some kind of action and many times it’s also more effective than the “feel-good” messages since it “cuts through the clutter”. It’s something that stands out and catches attention. However in this specific category it’s probably the other way around, by approaching a serious subject
with humor the campaign “cuts through the clutter”.

The campaign runs through all the steps of the hierarchy of effects. By using an affective tactic (humor) they’re trying to create awareness around the subject, the use of humor make it possible for Metro to portray the safety message (especially among young people) that is often disregarded or ignored. Through their different marketing tools Metro is able to create knowledge, the website explains the intention of the campaign and have a more rational appeal than the other tools used which makes viewers able to get more information regarding the campaign. The campaign is also playing on social forces, by using the phrase “dumb ways to die” Metro triggers the fact that people don’t want to be looked upon as stupid. It’s partially an individual value to engage in the core idea of the campaign however by making this campaign and getting more people involved with the matter, the does and don’ts around trains, people will be more aware of their behavior in order not to be perceived
as stupid. Through this Metro is creating liking, preference and conviction about the message they want to evoke. To further engage people in the safety-message and actually make them act careful around trains the website has a button for pledging to act safe around trains. Looking to the hierarchy of effects this would be the actual purchase, because here the viewer makes a clear statement of committing to the message.

Since Metro isn’t campaigning for a real “product” but a way of thinking/being and the competitors aren’t in form of actual companies their main positioning is emotional, it could almost be considered to be a
movement, Metro want’s to convey a way of thinking. The competitor they’re facing is a way of being, the frame of mind amongst young people so therefore their challenge is to “make it cool” to act safe. By using social media such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and iTunes - emerging tools especially popular among young people – it makes it possible for them position themselves as “the new thing” and convey the way of thinking. They start with the affective tactic and get people engaged by a “catchy” song and fun animation to catch people’s attention at an emotional state. The “dumb ways to die” starts off with more “silly” ways to die like “set fire to your hair”, “poke a stick at a grizzly bear”, things that are more okay to joke about and then ends on a bit more serious note with the actual actions the campaign is out to eliminate. The ending of the video appeals more to the cognitive tactics and that also continues on through the “dumb ways to die” website which focuses more about knowledge regarding safety around
trains and railways. The behavioral tactic is finally used through the pledge button which actually make the viewer act upon the message.

The “dumb ways to die” campaign is already widely spread and uses a lot of communication tools to put its point across. However a continuation might be necessary in order to make the message longer lasting and taken more seriously.

This video at YouTube shows how teens react to the Metro campaign video and the number one issue is that these young people probably won’t actually act upon the message. Metro has been able to go through the first couple of stages of the hierarchy of effects by creating awareness, knowledge, liking and preference. For example all the young people got the message of “being safe around trains” and they found the song catchy as well as the video funny. However they all were a bit hesitant whether the commercial would actually transmit in to actual behavior, that is to say the conviction and purchase part of the hierarchy of effects. The next step for Metro in this campaign could be to make the pledge button more prominent. A way of doing this could be too develop the campaign into encouraging people to do their own videos on the same theme, pledging to be safe around trains. This would be a way to take the campaign a step further and make people act upon the message. To make people more willing to post videos Metro could also arrange a contest where people could vote for the different videos and pledge to act safe at the same time.

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