Cute, candy-colored cartoon characters sing a happy tune, waving their tiny arms to the soothing beat ... until irresponsible behavior results in their grotesque decapitation, self-immolation, and other explosively awful "dumb ways to die." The short video is hilarious and it's winning the Internet, with more than 28 million views on YouTube since it went live earlier this month.
The project is a perfect case study of what elements can make for a viral hit: cuteness (obviously), shocking violence (sigh), a certain Internet-y strand of absurd comedy, and -- best of all -- GIF-ability. Follow the campaign's GIF tumblr here. According to Creativepool, the agency behind the spot, Melbourne's McCann, instructed the animator, Julian Frost, to "make it more violent" and "add a piranha to [a character's] private parts." On his site, Frost simply remarks "Well the Internet likes dead things waaay more than I expected." The spot was written by McCann's John Mescall and the music is by Tangerine Kitty and its available on iTunes and in a karaoke version as well (clever).
The true mark of a viral hit is not just a million views, but a million spinoffs. Dumb Ways to Die is on its way, with a science-oriented copycat video, Cool Things to Find, featuring NASA's Curiosity rover in its search for neat (and weird) stuff on Mars. The YouTube video, produced by a Seattle-based company called Cinesaurus, already has more than 70,000 views -- since yesterday.
For more work by Julian Frost, visit http://julianfrost.co.nz/.