Smutny Autobus
(Sad Bus)

K2 Internet S.A.
Poland Ministry of the Interior
Best in Show, IAB Poland MIXX Awards 2015

“A €10,000 budget, the Ministry of Interior as a customer, and the serious topic of transport safety to address doesn’t seem to be an award-winning combination. But in fact, it was one of the most impactful campaigns in Polish history. This was mostly due to the huge dispute it generated: journalists’ critical comments launched a public debate, which in the end involved even nationwide media. Thanks to its controversial form, it will be remembered for a long time.”

Kamila Kownacka
Chief Digital Officer
OMD Group Poland

Poor, poor sad bus—it’s falling apart. No one wants to ride on it; it knows it pales in comparison to newer models. It cries. And it attempts to commit suicide by riding on a conveyor belt to a car crusher. Briefly a butterfly from the junk yard brightens its spirits and turns off the belt. But just as it decides to live, a mom turns the belt back on and the poor, poor sad bus is crushed, spreading the message that there’s no mercy for the decrepit buses used to transport children around the country. This cartoon video produced by the Ministry of the Interior was intended to tell parents about its new service for revealing the safety records of the buses used for transporting their children. At the time more than 60% of the buses registered in Poland were more than 14 years old.

The video went viral. Viewers created Sad Bus T-shirts, a Sad Bus mobile game, and other gadgets. The mainstream news media not only replayed the video, it derided the video makers for killing the bus, adding to an already growing storm of controversy. And others? They used the Ministry’s online service and got dangerous buses off the streets.

Select Success Metrics

  • Police impounded 5,000 buses, 100 percent more than the prior year
  • 31% of internet users in Poland knew about the campaign, making it the third most recognizable social campaign in Poland
  • More than a quarter of parents with school-aged children who saw the campaign visited the site
  • During the holidays, nearly 35,000 buses were checked via the service

Case Study Video