Late last year, Metro Trains in Melbourne launched a public service campaign with this wildly successful and hilarious music video called Dumb Ways to Die:
Here are three elements that I suspect contributed to its viral success:
It has a distinct voice. People are drawn to stories with a distinct voice and unique perspective. Public praise for the video included comments like, “darkly cute,” “adorably morbid,” and “mixing cute with horrifying.” It catches your attention immediately with a head caught on fire, and it keeps your attention for three full minutes because you want to know all the other dumb ways they’ve thought of to die!
It’s very simple. The music is catchy in a can’t-get-it-out-of-your-head kinda way (my kids were singing this for days). The characters are simple, the setting is simple, and the visual details are kept to only what drives the story forward. The animation style shows a brilliant restraint in this respect.
The big payoff is at the end. I love how they confidently massage this story for three full minutes, trusting me to stick around for the Big Idea they communicate at the very end: be safe around trains. They trust this simple little story to communicate their message with very little hand-holding, and early results indicate success: Metro claims the campaign contributed to a 30% reduction in “near-miss” accidents during the first three months of the campaign.
It takes a courageous client to produce content like this, one who is willing to hold their story with an open hand and let it go where it needs to go.
Are you a courageous client?