C'mon, Charlie, this Meltdown Smells of a Marketing Plan [UPDATE]
Whatever you think of him, Charlie Sheen is everywhere. You cannot turn on the TV without hearing from, or about, him. He's all over the newspapers, and just about everyone is talking about him. His publicist just quit, but does he really need one? He has gotten all the publicity one could ever want on his own, and without paying a penny for it.
Is this the meltdown that most people are talking about, or is it a cleverly crafted plan to get attention and market his brand? I think it is the latter. While I am not a psychologist or an expert on mental illness, I know that he has a following, and it seems to be growing not diminishing.
- He just started his own personal Twitter account yesterday. The day he opened it, his Twitter account grew to over 519,000 followers. And it is still growing rapidly -- up to 856,246 at the beginning of the second day.
- UPDATE: Charlie Sheen made the Guinness Book of World Records Thursday morning for reaching 1 million followers in the fastest time on record--25 hours 17 minutes.
- His Twitter account has branding slogans "Born Small... Now Huge... Winning... Bring it..(unemployed winner...)"
- He even "brands" the two women with whom he is currently living. He calls them the two goddesses.
- He repeats these slogans in all of his interviews.
While the "against Charlie crowd" has also grown, it has not seemed to bother him or thwart his forward progress. At the time of its cancellation by Warner Brothers and CBS (which also owns BNET), his TV show, Two and a Half Men, was the highest-rated. Similarly, at $2 million per episode, his salary was the largest of any actor on television.
Whatever, you think of Charlie, he is a party-boy brand icon known for bad behavior with a smile. Unlike Tiger Woods, who had a "goody two shoes" image that suffered a great fall, Charlie has been the same for a long time. The character he plays on his TV show is pretty much the same as his character off-camera. He has been partying, hanging out with porn stars, and abusive to his wives since day one. All the while, his TV show has grown in popularity, and so has he - giving him an ever-growing paycheck.
Is this right? Personally, I do not think so, but who am I to judge?
What are marketers to make of all this? What some people think of any product is not the issue. The issue is what does the target audience think?
Whether you like Charlie or not, his brand is alive and well, and the people in his target audience have different reasons for liking him. Hopefully, the segment that looks to him as a role model is miniscule, or it might be the end of civilization as we know it. Segments that think he is funny, clever, outrageous, out-of-his-mind, or someone over which they can feel superior are the ones that keep him in the news.
Do you think that marketers can glean anything useful from this real-life Charlie Sheen episode?
Image courtesy of flickr user, alacoolb
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