Content Strategy

The perfect viral engagement storm of Mad Max, Fury Road

By in Content Strategy

It may seem unfair, when talking to business owners who are setting out on their content creation journey, to use a mainstream big budget production like the much anticipated Mad Max, Fury Road film as an example – but stay with us while we explain.

First of all – for those who missed the whole catastrophe that is Mad Max – you can get up to speed here.

Let’s talk about what content and media are. We like to think content and media are divided up into sub-categories – books, film, online news, blogs, video – but the all pervasive nature of the internet is such that the line between all these sub-categories is becoming more and more blurred – blame the evolution of devices, the evolution of access speed, or the adaptability of the audience – and regardless of the medium, the hero is always the content itself. But it is no longer enough that the content ‘goes viral’ – the real power is in viral engagement

The real power is in content that sparks “viral engagement” across multiple audiences.

So back to the insanity of George Millers latest rev-fest and how it fits into a blog about blogging! Let’s briefly unpack the film itself – I say briefly because there really isn’t – on the surface – much to unpack. A thin plot to support a car chase made up of the kind of vehicles set designers could only dream about as they cobbled billy carts together from Victor lawn mowers and fencing wire when they were children.


But hidden under this layer of dust, blood and twisted steel, there is Furiosa, a woman with a bionic arm and a noble mission, a scene from a Ralph Lauren catalog shoot, and a small gang of gun-totin’ grannies on bikes. Oh, and there is Max Rockatansky

And this is where the beauty of this piece of content (because movies are content) shines. Hitching a ride on Furiosa’s escape plan is – in no particular order:

  • an outraged patriarchy who are unable to fathom a female character who prevails (Mad Max is no stranger to strong women, a quick re-watch of Beyond Thunderdome is testament to that – and women are fine – provided they ultimately don’t win),
  • a very long line of cheer-leading feminists,
  • an opposing line of disgruntled feminists,
  • numerous movie reviewers with placards of opinion and analysis,
  • and possibly a lone blogger who’s main interest is the interest that the film generated across the spectrum of the internet.

Of course Fury Road is not the first piece of content to do this, nor will it be the last.

Big budget publicity machines can’t predictably buy this kind of broad range engagement. Not across so many different groups with such disparate (and in some cases, hard held “Nobody barks orders to Mad Max.) beliefs.

Viral content is one thing, but in reality, viral is simply that – it is passed quickly from one person to the next, a smile, a moment of outrage, a little action taken here and there – but no deep engagement, no ongoing skirmishes between different audiences, no further un-peeling of layers (still waiting for someone to hold up the granny-gang and their ‘one man one bullet’ mantra as an example of good movie roles for women over the age of 27).

Viral engagement is the next challenge for those creating content as part of their marketing strategy. Knowing and understanding what inspires your audience and giving them content that fires them up to engage with each other

But how to do this without a Hollywood style budget and an audience that has been impatiently waiting 20 years for what you are about to deliver?

Viral engagement is about how deeply you know your audience and what they do and don’t like. What is non-negotiable in their beliefs, and do they relate to your business? To give some cliched examples, the childhood immunisation debate is a wild-fire of viral engagement that refuses to die down. Climate change is another. Science, ethics and religion are a current hot-spot (teachers, parents, educators, politicians, and the church).  Fad diets can boil peoples blood (Health experts, doctors, diet champions, success stories, detractors and those who believe a different diet is better).

By crafting content that is relevant to both your business, and your audience, and which will resonate with your audience’s tribe, you can start to feel the ripples of viral engagement as your content is passed around, inspiring spin-off articles and commentary.

Disclaimer – it is no secret that the more controversial the topic, the more likely it is to ‘go viral’ – make sure you are not starting a fire that will damage your business only for the sake of effect!

For fun:
What is your Mad Max Fury Road name?

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