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The Story of 'Dumb Ways to Die,' the Beloved Megaviral Musical

This week on Tagline, we slice and dice McCann Melbourne's chart-topping train-safety PSA

In late 2012, McCann Melbourne's John Mescall sat down and wrote the lyrics to a grimly amusing song that would anchor one of the most beloved and megaviral advertising campaigns in history.

On episode 4 of our Tagline podcast, we dig into the making of "Dumb Ways to Die," the famous Australian train safety video, with the core team of people who made it—the agency creatives, the client, and the animator and musicians who brought it to life.

It's the story of a chart-topping song and music video that wrapped the unvarnished truth in impossibly catchy craft, becoming the most shared public-service campaign ever made.

 

Listen to episode 4 of Tagline above, or subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts. And below, check out the original "Dumb Ways to Die" video, as well as other materials from the campaign—and its spinoffs—through the years.

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Episode 4 guests

• Chloe Alsop, general manager of marketing and media, Western United FC
• John Mescall, global executive creative director, McCann Worldgroup
• Pat Baron, chief creative officer, McCann Australia
• Adrian Mills, partner, creative, brand and advertising, Deloitte Digital Australia
• Alec Hussain, co-founder and chief operating and experience officer, OUR SNRG
• Cinnamon Darvall, head of broadcast, McCann Melbourne
• Julian Frost, animator, illustrator, game maker
• Emily Lubitz, lead singer and guitarist, Tinpan Orange
• Ollie McGill, keyboardist and vocalist, The Cat Empire


Metro Trains | Dumb Ways to Die


Julian Frost's initial sketches for the characters


Character posters

Click to enlarge


Emily Lubitz and Tinpan Orange performing 'Dumb Ways to Die'

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio. Previously, he was creative editor at Adweek.

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