One Crucial PR Takeaway from ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’

Don't thank Mel Gibson. Try Mark Twain instead.


Movie directors approach “rebooting” a film franchise in different ways.

There is the prequel, which often lays out the history of a beloved property prior to the point where the saga began many years before. Regretfully, those usually only score big for the original movie homers (see “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” and try to forget all things Jar-Jar).

Conversely, there is also the sequel for those times when director or a studio thinks it would be a good idea to start the adventure again in “real time.” That’s what happened with “Superman Returns,” which ended up being everyone’s kryponite.

The most popular approach, however, may be the scratch model, or “starting over from scratch.” Take another angle, learn from the previous defects, and become a fan of the story first. Look at Christopher Nolan and “Batman,” J.J. Abrams and “Star Trek,” the latest iteration of Spider-Man, or even the Daniel Craig versions of 007.

maxresdefaultPeople love these inventive takes on a story they all know because they are judging it along with the original the entire time they are gawking at the big screen. The latest scratch model is “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

If you have not seen it, here’s your spoiler alert: It is spectacularly awesome! 

However, while I was sitting in my seat, glued to the screen and craving more blood-curdling action sequences, I found myself thinking of Mark Twain and public relations.

Here’s why:

There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”

The aforementioned Twain wrote that, and the movies prove this every year. Books, TV shows, comics, songs, and even older movies inspire new franchises. The intellectual property isn’t in creating the premise, but in connecting the dots. No one smacks the production company for plagiarizing content–they’re most often praised for bringing new ideas to a tired concept.

Public relations practitioners: You really should be inspired by this! 

mad-max_fury-road_poster2Not one week goes by that we are not racking our brains for original ideas and looking for the next big thing that hasn’t been done in communications (traditional or digital). Why do that to ourselves, especially when every agency dealing with every client on earth draws from a shallow pool of proven and not-proven tactics?!

Creativity in using those tactics. 

Stop worrying about finding the new thing they aren’t using. Instead, look at the older ideas and think about how you can use them more effectively or alter them to best serve the current needs of yourself and your client.

Much like the movies, PR is a highly competitive marketplace–one in which time waits for nobody. While you are losing hours trying to find the next big thing, the other agencies are using the same old thing better than anyone else thanks to their own teams’ creativity and collaborative efforts.

Sure, Mad Max is not an original idea–but even Mel Gibson went to see the new movie…twice.

Let that soak in for a moment. Now go to your next client meeting and conquer.

What a lovely day indeed.

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