In the history of marketing campaigns no company will be better remembered than Melbourne, Australia’s Metro trains. It all started out as a witty and engaging way to promote train safety by horribly mutilating cute and cuddly characters.
They created a marketing campaign around “the dumbest way to die.” The company had a video produced featuring cute, fuzzy, sweet little animal characters – dying horribly.
The campaign compared behaving recklessly around trains with a laundry list of other especially stupid and fatal errors in judgment.
This is utter marketing gold.
Proving that genius is its own reward, now The Empire Life Insurance Co. has made a licensing deal to use the song and the animated characters in a new ad campaign that claims “the dumbest way to die is without life insurance.”
It all became just another part of an even larger effort by Metro to not only capitalize, but also to profit on its safety campaign. Early in 2014, Advertising Age reported that the company would soon start selling cuddly toy versions of its now famous cartoon victims in stores. How many companies are willing to take the risk of a bold, original, and extremely controversial idea like this?
That effort was so effective it spawned a sequel.
By taking a huge risk The Empire Life Insurance Co. has achieved the holy grail of advertising: people are parodying their videos and bringing them free advertising.
Here’s the movie parody version of Dumbest Ways to Die:
Every time someones parodies the original campaign, it brings more people back to see what the hub-bub was about. That is having content go viral – just the original video alone has been viewed almost 150 million times.
The business environment is only growing more difficult to navigate successfully; companies, especially small and mid-sized ones, will need to step up their game with high quality and uniquely relevant content to survive.