Skip to main content
A scary good deal on trusted journalism
Get full digital access to globeandmail.com
$0.99
per week for 24 weeks SAVE OVER $140
OFFER ENDS OCTOBER 31
A scary good deal on trusted journalism
$0.99
per week
for 24 weeks
SAVE OVER $140
OFFER ENDS OCTOBER 31
// //

Selling both of your kidneys online; DIY electrician work; swallowing super-glue – these are all examples of "dumb ways to die" that Australians have been hearing about since 2012. And now they have come to Canada.

It started out as a campaign for train safety from Melbourne, Australia, rail company Metro Trains. It compared recklessness around trains with a number of other stupid and fatal mistakes.

The video, which has been viewed on YouTube more than 80 million times, shows adorable cartoon characters meeting a variety of grisly ends and appealed to millions with a dark sense of humour and weirdly catchy music.

And it won some prominent awards for Metro Trains and its ad agency, McCann Melbourne, at the Cannes advertising festival last summer. Kingston, Ont.-based Empire Life Insurance Co. has decided to attempt to borrow some of that success. The insurer has reached 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’s an uncommon approach for advertisers to license an entire campaign from another company. Far more typically, ads from other countries make their way to Canada because a multinational brand decides to adapt ads – usually from the U.S. – for global markets.

The partnership came about because Metro has been working with California-based licensing agency Evolution Inc. to capitalize on its award-winning campaign. Earlier this year, Advertising Age reported that the company would soon begin selling plush toy versions of its unfortunate cartoon victims in stores.

According to a statement from Empire Life, “a robust merchandise program ... is in full development for multiple territories worldwide.

“The message ... aims to make the topics of death and life insurance more approachable and remind consumers that the unexpected happens every day,” the statement said.

Okay, so poking a grizzly bear with a stick (another scenario in the video) is not a realistic example of the “unexpected” that happens every day. But the advertiser is hoping some borrowed humour will get its point across.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Latest Videos

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies