SYDNEY (Reuters) - An Australian public service ad campaign that became an internet hit for its black-humored list of reckless ways to die - such as "poke a stick at a grizzly bear" - has added to its luster by scooping up a record number of international advertising prizes.
The three-minute short co-produced by Melbourne private rail service Metro Trains to teach people to be careful around trains, 'Dumb Ways to Die', has notched up more than 50 million views on YouTube since its release in November 2012, sparked hundreds of parodies and even become a smartphone game.
The clip employs an insanely catchy tune and colorful blobs which die in a variety of ways, including "keeping a rattlesnake as a pet" and "selling both kidneys on the Internet," before culminating in train-related deaths that are described as "the dumbest way to die".
It swept the awards at Sunday's Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, winning a record five Grand Prix awards, 18 Gold Lions, three Silver Lions and two Bronze Lions, the most ever awarded to one campaign in the festival's 59-year history.
"The idea stemmed from our staff seeing people doing risky or dumb things around trains," said Leah Waymark, General Manager Corporate Relations at Metro Melbourne, which partnered with advertising agency McCann Melbourne to produce the video.
The song, composed by members of Australian bands the Cat Empire and Tinpan Orange, has hit music charts in 28 countries and rocketed to the top 10 on Apple's Australian iTunes charts within 24 hours of its release.
Best of all, Metro Trains reports a 21 percent reduction in accidents and deaths since the campaign began.
"We could never have predicted the scale and speed at which it's grown," Waymark said.
(this story has been corrected to change the management of Metro Trains to private from government)
(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Elaine Lies)