“Wiener… Wiener Wiener… Wiener Wiener…”
An odd way to start an article about content marketing, but nevertheless an important piece of an absolutely brilliant marketing campaign from the creators of South Park.
At the end of a three-part series of episodes in the newest season of the popular show, which has been running for 16 years, Cartman says, “screw video games!” and raises a stick the air. The image of the stick quickly transitions to a blatant advertisement for the new South Park video game, The Stick of Truth.
While my friends were busy laughing at the irony of the punchline, I sat there on my couch, grinning. As a marketer, I knew that South Park had just perfected content marketing.
Pay attention folks.
Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook
My brain alone can’t take full credit for the inspiration of this article. Prior to watching the episode of South Park, maturely titled “Titties and Dragons,” I was busy reading the new marketing book by Gary Vaynerchuk, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.
While the book is specifically targeted at social media marketing, the content marketing push is still there too. The point is, with the internet the way it is these days, it is impossible to just ask people to buy stuff. If I am on Facebook, it is for the entertainment and social experience first.
Vaynerchuk argues that you need to hit people with little jabs of content and follow it up with the right hook—your marketing pitch or ask for sale.
It’s a recommended read, and it brings to light the mission of the creators of the South Park. Get people to keep talking and following your fun content, and then hit them with that ask, that game pitch.
South Park Target Market
From a basic marketing perspective, South Park Studios should also be applauded.
They positioned the content of the episode at two specific target markets and generated jokes and story lines to match the market they were reaching.
Market 1: Gamers and “Geeks”
This is the more obvious market that the episodes are geared towards. Knowing the proven impact of older episodes like “Make Love, Not Warcraft,” a satire on the popular World of Warcraft video game, the creators took three elements (arguably four elements) of geek culture and crammed them all into the series.
There was a storyline about the “console war” between the newly released Playstation 4 and Xbox One.
There were also random stretches of each episode dedicated to anime cartoon culture. These featured Kenny as a Japanese princess, loved by the members of the Sony corporation.
Market 2: Black Friday Shoppers
Smaller stories intersect, appear, and disappear. But the primary story is about the coming of Black Friday. And it is a bloodbath.
While certainly a smaller target than Market 1, parents and other gift shoppers will also see the episodes for their prodding of Black Friday. They have dollars, and maybe, just maybe, they will spend it on the game.
The Wiener Song
This may have been an accident, but the catalyst to this content marketing reaction working is the “Wiener Song” featured in the second episode of the South Park trilogy.
It is catchy. It is irreverent. But most importantly, it is viral.
Thousands of people shared the video links throughout social media networks like Facebook and Twitter. Video clips of the number appeared everywhere on YouTube to thousands of views.
Placing this video in the second episode was crucial (and again, possibly accidental) because it gathered interest in the series just before the final episode released.
You can bet that episode three had a lot more views than episode two when it aired on Wednesday night.
South Park: The Stick of Truth
Now that South Park Studios had built an audience of new and old fans targeted at the game they are hopefully soon to release (it keeps getting delayed), it was time for the “right hook.”
At the end of the battle, the ridiculous musical numbers, the anime clichés, and Black Friday stock footage, there is an ask.
My roommates, who were watching the final episode with me, had absolutely no idea that the game existed, and immediately got to asking me all about it. What genre is it? Is it out already? What system is it for? Is it as bad [I jest] as older South Park titles?
No doubt plenty of other conversations similar to that one were happening all over the world.
Congratulations South Park. You just won content marketing.
If you are a web marketer or content curator and do not like South Park, I still advise watching the series of episodes and gleaning a couple pieces of solid content marketing gold.
South Park Trivia
Thank you so much for reading. Here is a little nugget:
Did you know that the creator of South Park Trey Parker was actually a Japanese major in college? The dialogue (while juvenile) from the Japanese characters is actual Japanese dialogue that makes sense in the context of the episode.
Dan is the Community Experience Lead @ Slocum Studio. He likes WordPress, playing guitar, and viewers like you.