What Mad Max Can Teach Us About Creativity and Leadership

Okay, honestly, if I’m thinking of the latest Mad Max movie, I’m thinking of the stunts, the chases, the costumes, George Miller’s unbridled creativity–pretty much anything but marketing.

However, the film (like good marketing and advertising) is immersive; it hits you at all angles and leaves you dying to share what you experienced with your friends and family. It’s just that powerful.

Creativity and leadership are about more than being shiny and chrome; marketing leaders need to create an engaging environment, empower their team, and implement creative ideas. And Mad Max: Fury Road has a lot to teach us about those components. Let’s take a look:

1. Create an Engaging Environment

Creative solutions arise in accordance with environment. Living arid desert under the ruthless and tyrannical Immortal Joe meant Max had to engage with his environment in a creative ways to survive. In fact, the movie opens with Max telling us how he’s been “reduced to one instinct: survive.”

Ruthless demigod? Survival in a desert? At this point you might be thinking, “How does that apply to me and how I lead a marketing team?” Well, your environment holds a strong influence over your creative ideas. It’s important to note that Max only engaged with his environment because he was terrified of what would happen if he didn’t.

The environment you cultivate for your workers should certainly be less dire; you want your team to engage because they’re excited, not because they’re afraid. By creating a space that is safe and open to creative ideas, you’ll find your team engaging more often and with better ideas. Your team won’t just want to survive the pitch and clock-out at 5pm, but strive for greatness because they’re excited to create.

2. Empower Your Team

Imperator Furiosa made sure that her team – The Wives – had access to all the information they needed to flee in the safest way possible. She told them where they were going, what they were going to do, and how it would be done (off screen, I’m sure). They had the chance to ask questions and gain understanding about the mission prior to the project’s ignition.

Similarly, every design and branding project begins with the Exploration Phase. When you get new information, there’s more material to help you and your team generate ideas, and ample time to then prepare those ideas for execution.

In an article by Newsweek titled The Creativity Crisis, “Creativity no longer occurs in a vacuum; researching and studying become an integral part of coming up with useful solutions.” Stimulate innovative thinking by providing your workers with all the information they need to understand the project. Bring other team members on board that you might have not initially staffed. Empower your team through any means necessary.

3. Support & Implement Creative Ideas

Now that you’ve empowered your team, it’s time to allow them the freedom to implement their ideas. Max learns quickly that although at first he feels capable of escaping an army of War Boys alone, he’s not going to make it on his own. He has to get out of the driver’s seat – literally. Max realizes he can’t even drive the War Rig without Furiosa’s help. Although he’s the titular character and an important piece of the story, Furiosa has ideas too. And sometimes better ones. Placing his trust in Furiosa and allowing her to execute creative ideas was a crucial element to the team’s success.


You’re a creative leader (and obviously a good one if you’re reading this blog), and we know that it can be difficult to give your team freedom to run with their ideas, especially when you’re working with a tight budget or deadline. However, it’s important to remember that you also can reap rewards by taking big risks. Never play it too safe because you’re scared, or shoot down a good idea just because it wasn’t yours. Build a team that wants to create and succeed together.

Now you too can use Mad Max: Fury Road as a benchmark for creative and leadership success!


Images from Warner Bros. 


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