A Tinder profile and tattoos: FCB’s Swim Reaper achieves global fandom

It appears a campaign for Water Safety New Zealand has developed an international following, with a popular Instagram account and some fans even etching it into their skin.

FCB’s ‘Swim Reaper‘ campaign was unleashed on Instagram in February last year, when the agency conceptualised the grim reaper into a cloaked swimmer, who reaps people for their dumb decisions in the water.

Called ‘Swim Reaper’, the character encourages people to pursue perilous acts in the water, before sending them to their deathbed.

Those grim themes have taken off with the Instagram having over 200,000 followers. The campaign also received a gong in the Social Marketing and Public Service Category for at the Effie Awards last year.

And now, it’s emerged into the category of fan art, which is generally known for attempts at flattery commonly reserved for movie stars and recording artists.  

The ‘Swim Reaper’ recently appeared in a few rather unusual contexts; one being Japan’s Tinder platform and another, on the bodies of fans who want to ink ‘the reapy one’ on their bodies.

It appears people enjoy the dark and punitive themes of water safety – that or a few individuals spent the night on a bit of wet newspaper. 

But, has the untoward and quite phenomenal coverage of a sociopathic reaper, actually made its mark in the water?

According to a release provided by FCB in February 2017, following the campaign’s first summer, there was a 20 percent year-on-year drop in total drownings, as well as zero drownings in the target demographic over the busy summer period.

However, given that drowning numbers are impacted by a multitude of issues (not least the weather and ocean conditions), it’s worth noting that the campaign alone cannot be credited for this change.   

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