Thursday, June 12, 2014

"Dumb Ways to Die" has been sold to a life insurance company

It was the most fun, most ear-wormy safety campaign of 2012. It won multiple awards. It reached the top 10 in the global iTunes chart within 24 hours of its release, and was a popular gaming app.

And now it's selling life insurance in Canada.

Joe La Pompe first made me aware of this. According to the Globe and Mail, Metro Trains, the Australian client for whom the original ad was made, has embarked on a global licensing program to make money from the cartoon song's popularity. Empire Life stated, “The message ... aims to make the topics of death and life insurance more approachable and remind consumers that the unexpected happens every day.”

What a stupid idea... for both Empire Life and Metro.

First of all, the viral potential of the cartoon has already been tapped worldwide. Thanks to international ad blogs, the PSA is already very familiar to Canadians. Many have seen it already, and will not necessarily associate it with life insurance or with Empire Life.

Second, it reeks of greed on the part of Metro. They had a runaway hit for the public good, and they sell it to an insurance company who totally miss the point? Now all those cute death scenarios are there to scare people into buying something, rather than to make a point about rail safety.

Third, how lazy do you have to be, as a marketer, to buy a successful, globally-recognized safety campaign and just tack a tacky tagline and corporate logo on it? Yeesh.

The only original thing they did was to translate and re-record it in French.

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