Disclaimer: I feel the need to clarify up-front that this post is about the story behind the Broadway musical titled The Book of Mormon, not the actual Book of Mormon. I’m sure the latter has scads to teach us about social media for business, but that’s another post for another day.
This Sunday the 65th Annual Tony Awards will honor the best of the best from the 2010–2011 Broadway season, and leading the pack with 14 nominations are … the guys from “South Park?”
Yes, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of everyone’s favorite potty-mouthed fourth-graders, are the new darlings of the Great White Way, and they’ve got the Tony noms to prove it.
Their musical The Book of Mormon, co-created with Avenue Q‘s Robert Lopez, has been setting Broadway aflame since its debut in March, earning the (often grudging) respect of A-list critics and packing the house night after night. (I’ve heard that scalpers are hauling in up to $900 per ticket.)
Now, everyone who knows me knows I’ve been a “South Park” groupie since the show debuted in 1996. (I remember the year because my husband and I met in 1997 … and when we bonded over “South Park,” I knew it was something special) and closely followed the careers of its creators.
It’s been quite a journey for Parker and Stone over the last 15 years, and along the way they’ve managed to teach me a thing or two that fit quite nicely into our ongoing discussion about social media for business.
“South Park” all began with a video Christmas card titled “The Spirit of Christmas,” painstakingly created with construction paper cutouts, glue, and an ancient 8mm camera. Parker and Stone had no intentions of going all out with their first foray; they took what they had and used it well.
Takeaway: Don’t burn yourself out trying to excel in all areas right off the bat; start with what you already have and there’ll be plenty of time to ramp up later.
Be open to strategic alliances
The idea for The Book of Mormon was supposedly born when Parker and Stone met Lopez for drinks after seeing Avenue Q. Lopez shared a wild idea that involved producing a show about Mormonism, and Parker and Stone (whose good-natured teasing of Mormons goes all the way back to 1997’s Orgazmo) recognized the potential for a match made in heaven … or at least in Salt Lake City.
Takeaway: Partner with people who share your interests and complement your talents, and together you’ll accomplish far more than either of you could separately.
Beware shiny objects
I remember a few years ago, one of the major networks began courting Parker and Stone with the intent of bringing “South Park” to prime-time network TV. The amount of the proposed deal was never disclosed, but it had to have been a bundle. Whatever the amount, Parker and Stone walked away from it, aware that their work never was and never would be “network material.”
Takeaway: Social media is all about being yourself, so don’t let the promise of big money (prestige, fame, etc.) draw you away from the “you” that’s gotten you this far.
When the time is right, do it big
I’m sure that The Book of Mormon would have done just fine off-Broadway, but its creators recognized the opportunity to make a gargantuan splash in a big-time arena that’s starved for original material … and their gamble is paying off quite nicely.
Takeaway: Learn how to recognize strategic opportunities and then give ’em all you’ve got.
So, what do you think? Has the journey of The Book of Mormon‘s co-creators inspired you in your quest for social media success? Tell us about it in the comments!