Introducing charm into charmless categories – Simon Manchipp

“♫ Keep a rattlesnake as pet… Sell both the kidneys on the internet… Dumb ways to die, so many dumb ways to die… ♫”

If you’ve heard this insanely catchy jingle about rail safety even once before, you’ve probably already got the earworm. (And if you haven’t, do so now!)

So how on earth did a video about rail safety, of all things, become a global sensation and the earworm heard around the world? It introduced charm into what most people would consider a dull, charmless category.
Simon Manchipp, co-founder and creative director of London design company SomeOne, isn’t responsible for the ‘Dumb Ways to Die’ campaign, but he loves it because it’s virtually the poster child for his manifesto – that “Weird Works”. ‘Dumb Ways to Die’ was funny, it was a little bit weird, it was charming. It went global. It’s the kind of exposure that most brands would kill for, but wouldn’t take the risk to achieve.

Simon always aims to look beyond the brand message and try to touch audiences with his design work. Design, especially for big global companies, is usually seen as a very serious business, with no place for frivolity. The exercise of branding is too often interpreted as creating an unbending set of rules – as producing a “Bible of No”.


Simon Manchipp

Simon‘s SomeOne has been behind the recent Royal Opera House rebrand, the re-grouping of the National Maritime Museum (the largest in the world), the Royal Observatory (The Home of Time) and the Queen’s House (The birthplace of British architectural classicism) as Royal Museums Greenwich, the rebrand of the progressive high speed european train company Eurostar, and the launch of Telefónica Digital’s ‘Tu | Me’  brand. Most recently SomeOne has been behind the launch of Africa’s newest and most exciting low-cost airline, FastJet. Simon has been in the business of design for over 20 years. He is a member of the D&AD Executive Committee, an external assessor at Central St. Martins School of Art & Design, London, has written a short course on Typography and is a widely awarded and published voice on design and progressive branding. He is also called Al Pacino, ‘Cappucino’ to his face, but thats another story. Being  the Executive Creative Director and Co-Founder of SomeOne, the progressive London based and internationally operating design practice, Simon launches and relaunches brands worldwide. SomeOne is working on some of the biggest and most high profile design projects in the sector. From telecoms to hotels, management consultants to airlines.

B-O-R-I-N-G. Who’s to say that branding can’t be more flexible, more interesting, more fun? Simon demonstrated an impressive portfolio of client work that goes beyond logos and guidelines. They were amazing examples of design that found entertaining moments in between the cracks; branding that interested people, made them pause, made them laugh.

So take the risk; entertain people – and talk your clients into it too. Remove their fear of going off-brand and sell them on the idea that weird works for business. If all else fails, play Dumb Ways to Die on a loop until they beg you for mercy.

Ally Long