Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

Watch out! This transport company knows how to have fun while taking safety matters seriously [Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing]

September 25, 2020

How do you initially respond when someone tells you to not do something?

Does your inner rebel come out and instead of obeying, you’ll feel more motivated to do what you’re told not to do?


Do you simply follow what that person told you, no BUTs and IFs?

This Australian public transport company knew that a lot of people could probably relate with the first response…

Metro Trains Melbourne, more commonly known as Metro, is the franchise operator of the suburban passenger trains service on the Melbourne Rail Network in Australia.

The company is responsible for 219 railway stations in Melbourne and has a workforce of 3,500 rail professionals.

In 2012, Metro received a report that young people in Melbourne are exhibiting absent-mindedness and foolish behavior around trains, some of which resulting in injury and worse, death.

To address the concern, Metro approached communications, digital development, and digital agency McCann Melbourne with an idea for a safety awareness campaign.

However, the task was quite tricky because the old school way of simply saying, “Don’t do this, don’t do that” won’t resonate as much with the commuters.

Metro and McCann Melbourne needed to plan a special approach so that commuters won’t turn a deaf ear to Metro’s safety call.

What is that special approach?

The “Dumb Ways to Die” Campaign!

Metro and McCann Melbourne’s first step was to produce and record a music video titled, “Dumb Ways to Die (DWTD),” which would be the main shareable content of the campaign.

Sung by Tangerine Kitty (a collaboration between Ollie McGill from The Cat Empire and Emily Lubitz from Tinpan Orange), DWTD was a playful song that featured funny cartoon characters dying in ridiculous ways.

The song was uploaded on YouTube in November 2012.

The music video ended with a reference to Metro’s main point: RAILWAY SAFETY. The narrative of the song implied that there are many “dumb” or easily avoidable ways to die, and since a train arrival is predictable, being hit by a train is one of those ways.

A karaoke version was released after the music video, and McCann Melbourne went on to produce more DWTD content such as GIFs and a downloadable song on iTunes.

In 2013, the song was adopted into a smartphone game, allowing players to try and save the cartoon characters from their deaths.

A children’s story book was also made regarding the campaign and posters were placed on Melbourne’s train stations. Every DWTD campaign encouraged viewers to visit Metro Trains’ website and “take the pledge.”

The pledge contains a pushable button that signifies the viewer’s oath to not misbehave around trains.


Just after a week since it was uploaded on YouTube, DWTD reached over 20 million views. It also became the Internet’s most shared video in 2012.

The DWTD smartphone game became the No. 1 free app in 21 countries including USA, Canada, UK, Australia, and Germany.

The campaign gained national news coverage in Australia and in just six weeks, Metro and McCann Melbourne received AUD 60 million from earned media coverage.

Since the release of the campaign, Melbourne recorded a 21% reduction in train injuries and deaths.


AdAge named DWTD as the 12th Best Campaign of the 21st Century.

The campaign also won silver and two bronzes at the Australian Effie Awards in 2013.

Aside from that, DWTD received five Grand Prix awards at the Cannes Lions 2013.

Unlike the conventional public safety campaigns, Dumb Ways to Die dealt with the usually sombre topic of death in a much more light-hearted way, without downplaying the seriousness of death and while still communicating the message of train safety.

Due to its originality and entertainment value, the campaign became more shareable and it was able to capture the attention of its target audience.

Just like what Metro and McCann Melbourne did, you can also communicate your message to your target audience in a fun and interesting way.

Get inspired with Metro’s strategy!

Years from now, your campaign might also ring fresh in your audience’s ears, just like the song lyric, “Dumb ways to die, so many dumb ways to die.”

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Fridays: Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing”

Jay Conrad Levinson (1984) said that Guerrilla Marketing “works because it’s simple to appreciate, easy to execute, and inexpensive.”

Guerrilla Marketing is unconventional.

Looking beyond the traditional ways of advertising, marketers, and advertisers need to spice things up in order for their brand to have campaigns that not only make an impact but also stick to their target market’s mind.

Guerrilla Marketing usually aims to have direct contact with consumers.

This type of direct contact should spark an emotional reaction that leads to consumers effectively remembering the brand.

It’s about making a big impression and making that impression last a long time (if not forever).

Guerrilla Marketing is inexpensive.

The effect of this is being able to create a buzz around the brand, and the strategy used to market it. Almost everything is passed around through word-of-mouth.

Word-of-mouth is one of the greatest outcomes and it usually doesn’t cost anything.

This is every business’ or brand’s dream!

Every Friday, we publish tips, examples, and other useful content on unconventional ways of marketing and promotion.

Learn more about how to grab your target market’s attention and make an amazing first and lasting impression without having to spend a lot of money.

Businesses don’t really need to spend much for a guerrilla campaign. You do not need a big budget to be successful. You just need creativity and a good imagination.

Hope you’ve found this week’s guerrilla marketing insight interesting and helpful.

Stay tuned for next Friday’s Gorillas of Guerrilla!


Kyle Yu
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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