Cute and morbid Australian train safety video goes viral

'Dumb Ways To Die' has more than 29 million views

A safety video called “Dumb Ways To Die” that is part of an Australian train company’s campaign to promote safety has gone viral, with more than 29 million views on Youtube.

The video combines equal parts cute, morbid and catchy and is the centrepiece of the campaign at, an online campaign from Melbourne Metro Trains that urges citizens not to stand on the edge of a station platform, not to drive around a train crossing and not to run across tracks.

The video was created by advertising firm McCann Worldgroup Australia, with executive creative director John Mescall writing the lyrics. He then brought The Cat Empire keyboardist Ollie McGill in to write the music.

The idea of the video was to get young people talking, without telling them what to do, Mescall told The Age technology editor Asher Moses. “People, especially younger people, hate being told what to do, and what’s really interesting about this work is it never tells you not to do it,” Mescall said. “It almost introduces shame and peer pressure into the equation.”

The video has spawned dozens of covers and parodies on Youtube, including “Cool Things to Find,” from ad agency Cinesaurus, to promote the Mars Curiosity mission. (That team that also brought you the hit “We’re NASA and We Know It.”)

So far, Mescall said the “Dumb Ways To Die” video has generated more than 700 media stories and is worth an estimated $50-million in “global-earned media value.”

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.