Dumb Ways To Die Down Under


by Jessica Hazel.

Aussies are well known for their cheery dispositions and sunny outlooks on life and this has never been more true since Melbourne Metro's new Public Service Announcement came to light earlier this week. 'Dumb Ways To Die' is a railway safety video like no other, a gloriously dark but nauseatingly cute collaboration between musicians Ollie McGill, John Mescal and Emily Lubitz and New Zealand animator Julian Frost.

You can watch it here

The first two and a half minutes of the video feature bizarre death sequences comparable to those in the Final Destination films. Simultaneously hilarious and horrific, Frost's characters endure all kinds of improbable fates including those of poking a grizzly bear with a stick, eating rotten pies and skinny dipping in piranha-infested waters. My personal favourite is the little chap who drinks the super glue.


The ad is part of a new campaign called 'Be Safe Around Trains' which is being overseen by Melbourne ad agency McCann. Some of their feedback to Julian Frost while the ad was being finalised included 'make it more violent' and 'add a piranha to his private parts.'


Metro's spokesman Daniel Hoare said the campaign was an attempt to take a progressive approach to safety warnings, in the hope it would reach an audience generally resistant to the more typical po-faced lectures.

"We set out to find an innovative way to reach young people who see themselves as indestructible," Mr Hoare said. "We felt images of body bags were more likely to have an impact on their parents, so we wanted to engage with young people in a way we think might appeal to them a bit more. Some people might have an issue with us making light of what is a serious topic, but if we can save one life or avoid serious injury, then that's how we'll measure the success of this campaign," he said. "Every week our staff witness serious accidents or near misses across our network. We hope people can engage with what we think is a catchy song and they might think twice before taking risks around trains."


Metro recorded 979 slips, trips and falls by passengers in its annual safety report for 2011-12, with injuries ranging from minor wounds to serious injuries to the head and face. It reported 23 collisions between a train and a person, not counting suicides or attempted suicides. Six pedestrians were hit at a level crossing, two of whom were killed.

Perhaps its time that Britain took a leaf from down under's book of health and safety and made such serious messages a little more digestible.

Jessica Hazel is a writer, blogger and director of Smoking Gun Vintage.


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