I’ll admit it: I did not expect Dumb Ways To Die, that cutesy PSA urging caution around Melbourne’s train network, to have a TikTok account. I also had no idea that researching the seven-year-old ad campaign would make me face my own mortality.
Yet here we are, staring down the barrel of 2020, immersed in the thriving social media presence of some mutilated beans.
In 2012, Metro Trains ran an ad campaign featuring a bunch of animated blobs and their grim encounters with public transport. That combo of cutesy mutilations and a catchy soundtrack was a huge success, and the campaign may have even prevented a few real-world deaths around train lines.
An iOS game featuring those characters was released the next year. More on that later.
Cut to today, and Dumb Ways To Die exists as a hugely popular TikTok account. Nearly 100,000 users follow the account and the antics of those sliced up beans, including their attempts at viral dance challenges.
But I had to ask myself: Where did those numbers come from? Asking some marketing managers to jump into mascot suits and dance for clout is a risky endeavour. Surely there was an answer for those viewership figures, outside of folks who remembered the original ad campaign?
The answer, as it turns out, is in the Dumb Ways To Die app. To date, the Dumb Ways To Die game series has copped more than 300 million downloads on the iOS app store, with an extra 50 million on Google Play for good measure.
In the years since I forgot about Dumb Ways To Die commercials, legions of kids have obsessed over the characters. Some even look at campaign’s new social media presence with nostalgia for the games.
Realising people can be genuinely nostalgic for an iOS game from 2013 has caused me crumble into dust. Perhaps that’s the dumbest way to die of all.Image: TikTok