Kenny's Death is a running gag in the popular cartoon, South Park. His death changes from episode to episode and creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker always keep their fans guessing how Kenny is going to meet his demise each week. South Park is an excellent example of content marketing; they manage to keep their content fresh, topical and at times very controversial.
Much like creating new content for your blog, social media platforms or website, keeping your content fresh is no easy task, creating new concepts, writing the story, finding images and generating the social media posts is hard work. But when you get it right, like South Park, it really pays off.
Image Source: http://southpark.wikia.com/wiki/South_Park_Archives
"Oh my God, they killed Kenny, you bastards!"
Every week Kenny is killed in South Park, ok so it’s the same theme, Kenny is going to die, but you can guarantee that the way he dies will be different (if not a little bizarre) and sometimes attention grabbing. It’s similar to creating content, I create content on my favourite topics, Social Media and Digital Marketing, my theme is the same, but my topics always vary, just like South Park I need to keep it fresh, topical and a little controversial.
What hasn’t killed Kenny?
Kenny has been killed so many times, it can be difficult to keep up with his gruesome deaths, the poor guy has met his maker in some very creative ways....
Antacid tablet explosion, lightning strike, shot by aliens, trampled by cattle, run over by a police cruiser, cooked in a microwave, crushed by MIR space station, attacked by mutant turkeys, stabbed, asphyxiation, crushed by a train, pummelled with a dodge ball, exploded by a firecracker and had his head bitten off by Ozzy Osbourne.
He has drowned, been caught in a conveyor belt, spontaneous combustion, mauled by a bear, taken out by snow speeders from star wars, burned, crushed, flattened, vomited his intestines out, hit by an ice cream van, attacked by snakes, electrocution and finally had his heart replaced with a baked potato! Phew, and in the opening sequence, he's killed nine different ways!
Two Content Marketing Lessons we can Learn from South Park
Being able to respond quickly to current events is vitally important when creating content, especially if you want to be part of the social conversation. The South Park creators are able to do all of this because every episode is written the week before its air date. Hard work, absolutely, but being able to stay relevant and topical makes South Park a very successful show.
Don’t be afraid to talk about controversial issues or topics which make people feel uncomfortable. South Park episodes have included topics which most mainstream programmes wouldn’t even dream of talking about, Pedophilia, Euthanasia, Aids, Scientology and Depictions of the prophet Mohammad.
When South Park premiered on Comedy Central, the critics hated it and deemed it "gratuitously obscene", but I guess what...15 emmy nominations later...In your face Critics!
In the Episode ‘It hits the Fan’, the word ‘Shit’ was said 162 times, that’s approximately once every eight seconds. Comedy Central was inundated with 1,000’s of complaints.
Realise when Your Content is Boring!
Creators Matt and Trey really went for it with Kenny’s creative deaths, but also realised when the gag was becoming old, and to keep their content fresh, decided to kill off Kenny for good. Kenny’s daily deaths continued until season five and he was killed off permanently in an episode titled “Kenny Dies.” “I think a lot of people probably haven’t noticed. I couldn’t care less. I am so sick of that character.”
- Matt Stone, in a 2002 interview on Killing Kenny permanently.
Ensuring your content is fresh, topical and controversial will take a bit of time and effort on your part, but it also ensures your readership will keep coming back for more, Killing Kenny, being topical and throwing in lot's of controversy worked for South Park, you don't have to be as extreme with your content, but following a similar pattern will help increase your engagements.