Mobile devices help ‘Dumb ways to die’ become the fastest spreading Australian viral ad ever

dumb ways to dieMetro Trains’ ‘Dumb ways to die’ cartoon is the fastest spreading Australian viral brand hit of all time, YouTube has confirmed.

The catchy three-minute video launched on Friday, and has since registered 4.7m (updated: 8m) views on YouTube.

The film trumps other Australian virals ads, such as the Lambassador Sam Kekovich ‘chop hit’, ‘It’s a snap’ for Central Institute of Technology and a spoof of Carly Rae Jepson’s hit single ‘Call Me Maybe’ by Nova FM.

Dumb ways to die was watched 2.3m times in just 48 hours, with no spend on media to bump up traffic numbers.

YouTube Australia’s Karen Stocks told Mumbrella that this video is unusual in the high number of views on people’s mobile devices.

YouTube stats on Dumb ways to die

She said: “The number of views on mobile devices has been staggering. Far more than we’ve seen in the past for other viral videos. Which could be explained by the rapid uptake of tablets in Australia.”

Stocks singled out three reasons why the video has gone viral.

“A snappy headline. A catchy tune that gets stuck in your head. And a message that it easy to understand and perfectly targeted,” she said.

“It’s also very shareable,” Stocks added.

Exposure of the video is expected to rise further this week, when media buying behind the campaign starts.

The agency behind the campaign was McCann Melbourne. The song was written by ECD John Mescall.


  1. Lucio Ribeiro
    19 Nov 12
    1:14 pm

  2. This is how you define brilliance!

  3. Gem
    19 Nov 12
    2:19 pm

  4. Gusty brilliance which has paid off – big time!

  5. Peter A
    19 Nov 12
    3:31 pm

  6. I know it’s cute and catchy, and will rack up the stats for number of views – but will it really change behaviour?

  7. Bree
    19 Nov 12
    3:35 pm

  8. I think having a main character of TV show Glee tweet about it helps!

  9. Noni
    19 Nov 12
    3:36 pm

  10. I have a sudden craving to buy that song on iTunes… It’s remarkably good!

  11. Sam G
    19 Nov 12
    5:55 pm

  12. “Viral”.. I wonder how many Australian viewers saw this, considering the main refering point for being picked up is Reddit, and that most of the commenters on the video are not from Australia?

    Many so-called Australian advertising ‘viral successes’ have omitted that the majority of their viewers were not in Australia (or, thus, the intended audience for the client).

  13. Sam G
    19 Nov 12
    5:57 pm

  14. Nice animation and song, though.

  15. Anonymous
    19 Nov 12
    6:25 pm

  16. This is great work. Simple as that. Well done, McCann.

  17. sharyn
    19 Nov 12
    11:03 pm

  18. I went to a conference recently and i wish i could attribute this quote but i can’t quite remember who said it but the message was ‘Content might be king but distribution is king kong’! I think this is a perfect example of how an idea gets distributed in a number of powerful networks like Reddit and spreads very quickly. Its as much about the distribution as it is the content. I’d be interested to know if they had a strong distribution strategy to make this happen or was it just by chance. Anyone from McCann? This will be a curse for you though, how many clients will now come asking for a ‘viral’ just like this 😉

  19. X
    20 Nov 12
    8:50 am

  20. Most deaths are suicide

  21. Bob
    20 Nov 12
    11:37 am

  22. I wonder how many people will being humming this tune as they aimlessly wander across the rail tracks?

  23. Just sayin...
    20 Nov 12
    11:39 am

  24. Twitter + Mobile = Success

  25. Valentina Borbone
    20 Nov 12
    11:48 am

  26. My personal opinion – that’s disgusting. When someone is on the edge of their world and not being able to cope, do you think they’re going to walk to the edge of a train platform and sing along “dumb ways to die”….? Really? Sure, viral is great for those of us giggling along to the song lyrics, but people on the edge of their world are looking for an easy way to end their pain, not a clever one. Another agency doing creative for the awards it seems, not to actually deliver a message to those in need.

    This pretty much says jumping in front of a train is a dumb way to die, but really, go ahead and find another way to succeed.

  27. Jimi Bostock
    20 Nov 12
    12:49 pm

  28. awesome

  29. Steve
    20 Nov 12
    1:09 pm

  30. Valentina – I don’t know if you actually watched this or not, but at no point in this video does it reference suicide or make light of the issues around it. It’s simply saying be careful around trains – don’t stand too close to the edge of the platform or drive around boom gates etc. People do all of this stuff, which is pretty stupid considering all of the warnings and the potential outcomes. It’s horrible that people choose to suicide in front of trains, horrible for them, the drivers, passengers, police and whoever has to clean up that mess. But this isn’t trying to address suicide or the depression / problems around it… it’s just saying be careful around trains. I can’t imagine the intended audience is people thinking about ending it all.

  31. lem
    20 Nov 12
    1:34 pm

  32. Just saw on Facebook that Ollie from The Cat Empire wrote the song??

  33. Just sayin...
    20 Nov 12
    2:03 pm

  34. @Steve I think Valentina was led on by X. From the moment your born you spend the rest of your life dying it depends how you look at it really.

  35. John Mescall
    20 Nov 12
    2:31 pm

  36. @lem

    Ollie McGill (from The Cat Empire) did indeed write the music and he did a cracking job.

  37. Shamma
    20 Nov 12
    3:59 pm

  38. “It’s also very shareable”

    YES that is generally one reason people share things …

  39. Mitch
    24 Nov 12
    1:35 pm

  40. I have lived in Melbourne all my life. Connex, the previous Melbourne Metro train operator, did a poor job – they delivered poorly and apologised plenty. Metro, the current operator, deliver much more reliably, but do not aplogise. But at least the next service is only 10 minutes away, not 30 minutes. Metro have been doing a much better job. It is great to also now see that Metro is thinking laterally and trying to best find its target market with regard to train safety. This is a gutsy and forward-thinking campaign that deserves to go viral. Hats off to you Metro (and cancel less trains please).