Good art is … an option for a PSA?

This all white installation at the State Library last week was a natural draw for the likes of me.

So I was surprised – as I’m sure others were – to see the plinths represented of the number of people expected to die in a vehicle accident in the State between now and Christmas.

That simple description suddenly filled each object with a completely different weight.

A slightly lighter, but just as intentionally hard hitting, piece of public service art from the Metro team in Melbourne has had major international success.

Arlene Paredes of the International Business Times said the Dumb Ways to Die campaign was “brilliant in getting viewers’ attention” and “arguably one of the cutest PSAs ever made”*

But there have been some detractors – the youtube video was banned in Russia for ‘giving young people the wrong idea about ways to die’. (I can see that dark winters and this type of light hearted dead jelly baby thing would not be a good combo. Ruby Wax once joked with a Russian diplomat stationed in Melbourne that it must have been the most culturally weird thing for him to be in a place where the sun mostly shone and the constant response to any pending disaster is ‘No worries mate.’)

I’m sure this campaign could have come in handy to teach my kids not to put forks in a toaster or play with stingy things so I think the marketers will have made an impact on little kids, setting them off on the road (sic) to risk awareness with this tune forever in their heads.


Dumb Ways to Die

The Dumb Ways to Die campaign was so successful – it even has its own wikipedia page *

website and game app

and was awarded this year’s Integrated Grand Prix at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity.

For both the somber and the silly – it’s good to see creative minds at work trying to tackle the standard patriarchal messages about the risks that we often take.

Will they have a lasting impact in a country doomed to live and die by the car? We’ll hope so – even though we know these are complex issues without simple solutions.


7 thoughts on “Good art is … an option for a PSA?

  1. Quite amazing.

    Did you know that in Manhattan there are white “ghost” bicycles chained to various posts around the city? Each one represents a cyclist killed by a driver. They are both sad and moving.


    • Hi Caitlin – thanks for dropping by – you’re site is a newbie writer’s paradise. I will have time over the New Year to absorb some more blogs so will bookmark yours to read some more. I hadn’t been aware of the ghost bikes – that’s certainly a poignant memorial.


      • Thanks! I have plenty of posts on writing, blogging and creativity, if helpful…

        The ghost bikes are really poignant. It is shocking how many cyclists have been killed in NYC — 24 this year.


    • Yes – it was surprising to look around the installation and then see the underpinning message. For me the aspect of consumerism also was highlighted – ie that all the material objects were so entirely valueless against the reality of a lost loved one. My dear Uncle was killed early one morning by a speeding car going through a red light – the driver was still drunk. The ramifications of that one senseless incident has so many endless ripples it’s almost unbearably to multiply that to all these other people.


    • Hi Mae

      It was only up for a few days – I suppose being outside might have been tricky. There is another installation there now which I think is part of the Melbourne NOW events? I might go into the city today and have a look at this and report back!


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