An Australian public safety film, aimed at children and teens, by Metro Trains (McCann Melbourne) has won 5 Grand Prix awards at Cannes. Dumb Ways to Die, combined animation, a catchy tune you can download, a website and even an interactive mobile app/game. It swept the board.
But why? As a parent, a "grown up" and someone who works in the agency world, I quite like it. But maybe that is why, maybe that's the issue....if you look at the highly respected professionals across the various Cannes Juries, they are also of a "grown up" age.
In the context of advertising creativity, Dumb Ways to Die does stand out. No argument there. But remember it's purpose and target audience; children and younger teens, informing of them to be careful around trains in Australia. A group of people with very short attention spans, swamped with any form of interactive entertainment, all available at their finger tips.
If you now try and place yourself in their shoes, think about how they behave and what excites them...or just watch your children, if you are lucky enough to have any. Dumb Ways to Die now sits in a different context. It should now be compared to Phineas and Ferb, Gumball, Johnny Bravo, The Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad (yes they watch those too) etc. All these have their associated interactive games, but with a different dynamic of regular and differing story lines, and characters with personality and individual association.
For me, when you look at Dumb Ways to Die this way....it may not be such a stand out award winner. But there is something subliminal going on...I've just learnt that my daughters know all the words to the song....and knew it was a safety message from Metro Trains.
One that does stick in my mind, but I don't think it won many awards was "Charley says..." A 70's "talking" cat, with a story line (6 episodes), a personality, and his own interpreter who always seemed to need helpful advice. Kids across the country...and adults, started mimicking the cat. Interestingly it was created by animators, who also made children's TV cartoons.