26 Feb 2014
Julian Frost, 34, studied a Bachelor of Design in visual communication at CPIT between 1998 and 2000. After graduating he moved to Australia and began working for Mcann Melbourne advertising agency, where he was tasked with helping design a train safety campaign for Metro.
The Dumb Ways to Die campaign uses black comedy to highlight safety around trains. Characters in the advertisement kill themselves by doing increasingly stupid activities, such as swimming in piranha water, taking off their helmets in outer space and keeping a rattlesnake as a pet.
The video culminates in three characters being killed by trains due to unsafe behaviour.
“The ad agency had come up with the concept and convinced the client of its brilliance. They had some lyrics for the song and were looking for someone to make an animated clip,” Frost says.
“So my friend suggested I meet with the Creative Director and he thought my grim sense of humour might suit the job.”
Frost went to work on directing and animating the video and drawing print illustrations. After being uploaded to Youtube in November 2012, the Dumb Ways to Die video went viral.
It was viewed 2.5 million times within 48 hours and 4.7 million times within 72 hours and, as of February 2014, has had over 72 million total views.
It has been over a year since the video was launched but the video is still picking up accolades, including The London Design Museum's Designs of the Year 2014. It has previously won seven Webby Awards including the Best Animation Film & Video and the Integrated Grand Prix at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity.
Frost says it is hard to process the success of the Dumb Ways to Die campaign.
“It is a great privilege to have made something that kids really enjoy and I’ll always be grateful. I just don’t quite understand how it happened.”
In fact, the video has proved so popular that Frost, along with programmer Sam Baird, turned the campaign into a mobile phone application.
In the Dumb Ways to Die game, the player must avoid the dangerous activities engaged in by the various characters featured throughout the campaign.
Players can also pledge to "not do dumb stuff around trains”.
Supermodel Kate Moss has said the game is her favourite mobile phone application and called it “totally addictive”.
Frost says he was “delighted that the train safety message is cutting through in the crucial super-model demographic.”
Frost continues to work in Melbourne, from home.
“[I am] doodling about on whatever projects are on my desk at the time. Today I am drawing bananas.”