The campaign was devised by advertising agency McCann Melbourne. It appeared in newspapers, local radio, outdoor advertising, throughout the Metro Trains network and on Tumblr. John Mescall, executive creative director of McCann, said "The aim of this campaign is to engage an audience that really doesn’t want to hear any kind of safety message, and we think Dumb Ways To Die will." McCann estimated that within two weeks it had generated at least $50 million worth of global media value in addition to more than 700 media stories, for "a fraction of the cost of one TV ad". According to Metro Trains, the campaign contributed to a more than 30% reduction in "near-miss" accidents, from 13.29 near-misses per million kilometres in November - January 2011/12, to 9.17 near-misses per million kilometres in November - January 2012/13.
The campaign won seven Webby Awards in 2013 including the Best Animation Film & Video and Best Public Service & Activism (Social Content & Marketing). It won three Siren Awards, run by Commercial Radio Australia, including the Gold Siren for best advertisement of the year and Silver Sirens for the best song and best campaign.