'Dumb' viral video lives on

Last updated 05:00 30/11/2012

The latest campaign by Melbourne's Metro takes a very cute and cuddly approach to the issue of safety around trains.

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Australia's fastest-spreading viral video, Dumb Ways to Die, has taken on a life of its own, inspiring more than 65 cover versions, 85 parodies and 170 re-posts on YouTube.

The original clip, made to promote safety on Melbourne Metro Trains, has amassed more than 28 million views on YouTube since it was posted on November 14.

Its creator, ad agency McCann Worldgroup Australia, said its "conservative" estimate was that the campaign had generated A$50 million in "global-earned media value" so far, in addition to more than 700 press hits.

A new parody clip by Seattle-based creative team Cinesaurus about the Curiosity Mars mission, dubbed "Cool Things to Find", joins dozens of other parodies and covers including a classic rock version, a Russian cover, a take by YouTube band The DDL Boys and a cover by a traditional Malaysian musical group.

There's also a karaoke version to join the iTunes track, and a music teacher has published a clip teaching people how to play the original song on guitar and ukulele.

"It's entered popular culture," said John Mescall, executive creative director of McCann Worldgroup Australia.

Mescall wrote the lyrics of the original song and brought in Ollie McGill, the keyboardist from Cat Empire, to write the music, as well as a freelancer to complete the animation. A friend of McGill's did the singing.

Perhaps illustrating why commercial TV networks are in such a poor state, Mescall said he spent "a fraction of the cost of one TV ad", but created something that will live on long after the campaign is over.

"A lot of paid advertising campaigns die the moment you stop spending money, whereas this is going to be in people's playlists for quite a while now," he said, adding TV networks had to re-think their controlled approach.

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