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In the dizzying, nothing is left private world of TMZ, social networks, “gotcha” journalism, reality television and the D-list “celebrities” they spawn, it is no wonder an individual can act strange (being polite) and make millions of dollars. If you are in the public eye and you don’t have a sex tape and you’re not trending on Twitter, then your public relations staff isn’t doing their job. Ask Charlie Sheen.
Sheen became the train wreck the world couldn’t turn away from. Sheen was the booger peeking from your friend’s nose and he/she didn’t have that “booger friend.” As fast as you can blink, it seemed like Sheen was creating fresh, yet outlandish terms and phrases. The world was waiting to see, hear and Tweet about what Charlie did and said next. A few of Sheen’s more memorable quotes from his various public interviews are:
"I'm not bi-polar, I'm bi-winning.” "Look at me, duhhh." “Winning!” "I am on a drug. It's called Charlie Sheen. It's not available. If you try it once, you will die. Your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body." “I got tiger blood, man.” “Dying is for fools, dying is for amateurs." “I mean, what's not to love? Especially when you see how I party man, it's epic. The run I was on made Sinatra, Flynn, Jagger, Richards, all of them, just look like droopyeyed, armless children." "I have a 10,000-year-old brain and the boogers of a 7-year-old. That's how I describe myself."
If those aren’t reassuring about the mental stability of a human, not sure what is. Some of the above quotes were marketed brilliantly into Sheen swag. What is the eventual outcome of mental instability in the glamour life of a Hollywood star? Money.
Naturally, tee-shirts, coffee mugs, bumper stickers, even a Sheen-esque Halloween costume were available for purchase. So, there is this high profile celebrity spouting the weirdest, strangest, dumbest, most ridiculous things, and subsequently backing the hypothetical Brinks truck to his Beverly Hills mansion. Winning!
Charlie was not only becoming richer and richer while obviously falling apart mentally, his romantic life was worthy of a reality show and its very own Wikipedia page. Sheen had goddesses. Yes, plural. Some male celebrities are known for being a regular Casanova; see George Clooney or Derek Jeter. But the “Cloon-dog” and “Jeets” do things the right way. They
date the most beautiful, successful women in the world, but neither drop to one knee and they stay away from bad publicity and the tabloids.
As for Sheen and his “Adonis DNA”, (wait, what?!) he has been married and divorced three times with five children. Some of the antics in Sheen’s past relationships include restraining orders, accidently shooting one of his fiancés in the arm, accused of participating in a wellknown escort agency ran by Heidi Fleiss and dating numerous adult film stars. Salt of the earth.
Charlie Sheens’ sudden takeover of the world began February 14, 2011 on The Dan Patrick radio show. For purposes of this midterm I will begin the focus on a series of interviews Charlie Sheen did with sports radio host Dan Patrick. Sheen’s distinctive interviews were strange, sporadic and must-listen radio.
Sheen originally joined the radio show to talk about two things. First, he wanted to discuss his recent, unique pep talk to the UCLA college baseball team. The self-proclaimed “Warlock” eccentrically announced “stay away from crack, drink chocolate milk.” Truly words everyone should live by.
Sheen continued with the crack talk. He went on to tell Dan Patrick and the assumingly confused and entertained radio audience to stay away from crack; unless of course you can control it socially. Clearly a positive suggestion from a modern day prophet.
The second topic of discussion between Dan and Sheen was his recent issues—and subsequent public battle and firing-- with his boss at CBS on the ratings bonanza television sitcom Two and a Half Men. Sheen was the highest paid actor on television, banking nearly two-million per episode. After a few insults and jokes directed at Chuck Lorre, Sheen was left unemployed. Not even the outrageous sum of money could sober Sheen.
The Valentine’s Day interview was separated into two segments by a previously scheduled commercial break; just as Mr. Patrick began to squirm over Sheen’s comments. The first question to Sheen post-commercial was if Sheen heard from his public relations team during the break. Sheen is heard chuckling and responds with “My phone actually exploded, caught fire…I guarantee you there is a firestorm coming, Dan.”
Sheen goes on to reveal he was sober for nearly a dozen years but became bored. Sheen describes his first drink during this particular relapse (one of many) as sublime as a first hug with a great friend. Makes sense to do drugs and drink alcohol to escape boredom. And everyone enjoys a nice embrace with a friend.
Sheen called in to speak with Patrick again two days later to clarify some of his controversial comments. Sheen began the interview ironing out his relationship with Two and a Half Men creator and now former boss, Chuck Lorre. Sheen was amazingly coherent and believable; even while hinting he doesn’t remember the interview from only 48 hours ago. Suffers from shortterm memory loss, I guess. At the time Sheen was confident he would fulfill his sitcom contract to CBS even though he regularly showed up to the set on very little sleep. He emphatically insisted he never showed up to the set of Men under the influence of alcohol or any other drugs.
Mr. Sheen decided to make one more phone appearance on The Dan Patrick Show three weeks later on March 9th. At this point, Sheen was let go from Two and Half Men and the media was smitten with Sheen’s antics. He was now filing a wrongful termination lawsuit against Lorre and Warner Brothers Studio. The suit was later settled and the two parted ways.
Sheen told Dan Patrick 94 percent of the media blitz was because of his appearances on the radio show. This is where the infamous Charlie Sheen-Media infatuation began, Sheen suggested. Sheen claimed he was working out vigorously (goddesses, anyone?) while dropping clues at his own crack and marijuana consumption. Sheen interrupted the interview to relay to the audience that the FedEx delivery person was at his door to deliver “a lighter.” Surely it was a Bic. He quickly played it off as a joke.
For the most part, the words exciting Sheen’s mouth are, for a lack of a more intellectual phrase, oddly confused. He jumped from topic to unrelated topic and said things no normal person even thinks of. Was it all a ploy? A public relations stunt? Or was Sheen really on a drug binge that left his mind on another planet? Either way, the actor on the self-proclaimed “Charlie Sheen drug” was a hot topic of conversation and was the most coveted interview for all forms of mass media.
Before looking at whether Sheen’s abnormal behavior was handled appropriately by his public relations team, who is Charlie Sheen? He is actually an established, accomplished movie star.
The youngest son of famous actor Martin Sheen, his birth name is Carlos Irwin Estevez. Sheen starred in and won an Oscar for his performance in Platoon. He played an all-time classic movie character in Major League, and was great in the original Wall Street; just to name a few of his movie adventures. Sheen has the body of work to warrant respect among his Hollywood peers.
Making his television debut, Sheen played “Deputy Mayor, Charlie Crawford” on the hit show Spin City. Sheen joined the cast after Michael J. Fox could no longer carry-out his job requirements due to Parkinson’s disease. The production was moved from New York City to Los Angeles in order to better accommodate Sheen.
Sheen has participated in many charitable ventures, as well. In 2004, Sheen took on the responsibility of spokesperson for Lee National Denim Day breast cancer fundraiser. Sheen is said to have a close friend who passed away from breast cancer. Sheen also made donations during his “Violent Torpedo of Truth” comedy tour. He donated one dollar from every ticket sold to the Red Cross Japanese Earthquake Relief Fund.
From the proceeds earned while on tour, Sheen also gave to other charitable organizations, including the Organization for Bipolar Affective Disorder and the Brian Stow Fund.
Brian Stow was nearly beaten to death at the Los Angeles Dodgers’ season opener in 2011. Stow, 42, is the father of two and was thought to be targeted simply for wearing the Dodgers rival San Francisco Giants jersey. In 2006 Sheen was awarded the Aid for AIDS (AFA) Angel award for his significant financial contributions and volunteering as a celebrity judge at a few of the AFA’s fundraisers. Sheen’s interest in gaining support and awareness for AIDS has Indiana ties.
In the late 1980’s, Ryan White, an Indiana teenager, contracted the AIDS virus through a blood transfusion for his hemophilia. White became the national spokesperson for AIDS awareness. Sheen does not only donate his time and money but his entrepreneurial vision. Sheen has developed a kids clothing line called “Sheen kidz.”
Now for the fun, put my education to good use stuff. Was Charlie Sheen’s “meltdowns” handled appropriately by the media and his public relations personnel? Is Charlie Sheen a public relations goldmine or disaster? If the goal is money, women, media exposure, more money and the opportunity to be cast in numerous leading roles again, then he definitely came out victorious from his outrageous behavior.
Sheen definitely benefited by the continuous explosion and instant availability of social media. In 2011 Sheen’s Twitter account set a Guinness World Record for “the fastest time to reach 1 million followers.” With little to no filter, the public was eager to read what @charliesheen would type out to the universe to consume and process. Sheen’s Twitter bio reads “Born Small…Now Huge…Winning…Bring It…! (unemployed winner…)”
Think that is silly? Maybe, so. But he uses some of the most infamous quotes he spouted in the previous months and even poked fun at his own misfortune of now being an unemployed actor. Probably more revealing is in early March 2011 he hired Ad.ly marketing agency. The agency specializes in celebrity endorsements via Twitter. Sheen stood to make upward of one millionper-year just off this social network business adventure.
Racking in nearly $200 per Tweet and with 6,837,894 followers (as of early March 2012) this move was smart. A marketing and public relations plus for such a loon.
Sheen’s mega-capitalization on his own adversity can be traced back to the prominence of New Media. SiriusXM radio launched a channel dedicated to Sheen, “Tiger Blood Radio.” A 24-hour channel focused on the actor’s media antics. This is mind-blowing; it really is a statement to our society. A guy is admittedly on drugs, says outlandish things and has a 24-hour satellite radio program dedicated to him. Snooki and Lindsay Lohan should be impressed and pissed.
Sheen also was able to land a live stand-up comedy tour, “My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat is Not An Option." The tour sold-out in a torpedo-style 18 minutes; a Ticketmaster record. By all reviews, he absolutely tanked. Night after night Sheen took the stage, seemingly inebriated and incoherent. Sheen interacted with the instantly and vocally dissatisfied crowd by asking “who does crack…who is holding crack right now?” All while he held his hand high with pride. Although the comedy tour didn’t succeed in the long run, the fact we was even able to have the chance is another win for Sheen and his team.
Sheen also picked up an endorsement deal to be a part of the electronic cigarette fad. The "NicoSheen" product would feature the actor's signature smirk on the packaging of disposable E-cigarettes and related tobacco products.
Whether it was Sheen acting alone or it was all orchestrated beautifully by handlers, Sheen was able to, in a short couple of weeks, turn himself into a media mogul. A feat some very talented, charismatic individuals strive for in a lifetime but never achieve.
Sheen even made light of his inability to remain sober while being interviewed by Piers Morgan. Sheen said he isn’t sure how long he has been without drugs or alcohol because he is “not being held hostage by AA anymore,” and mentioned that he’s “riding on a mercury surfboard.” Chances are high he was high during the interview.
Something especially unusual Sheen did was he never hid from the media. Typically, when a movie star has personal issues like drug addiction they go away to rehab. Sheen did the opposite. He showcased his drug habits and turned it into a joke, apparel and weaseled his way into daily water cooler discussions.
Many public relations practitioners will express how important it is to get out in front of the story. Sheen allegedly entered rehab for the third time in 12 months in early 2011. Sheen’s trip caused a production shut down on Two and a Half Men which caused rapid media buzz. Sheen remained in front of the news story by denying rehab and blaming an aggravated hernia. As rumors rapidly spread that Sheen was in rehab, he sent a text to an online blogger: “People don’t seem to get it… Guy can’t have a great time and do his job also? Bunch of turds.”
Kacey Jordan, porn star and a friend of Sheen’s told TMZ the actor was complaining of sharp stomach pains after a 36-hour, $20,000 cocaine binge. Pablo Escobar would be impressed.
A few professional opinions on Charlie Sheen’s media blitz: Jim McNulty (clients have included SIGMA Marketing Group, 89 Degrees and Conversen) says Sheen did a wonderful job in developing his brand by referring to himself in third person repetitively. According to McNulty this showed great confidence in the product; which in this case was himself. Sheen executed a great compilation of shock, uneasiness and amusement—a triple play that could rivet a marketer’s most jaded prospects.
Rosalie Harris (clients have included Chicago Association of Direct Marketing, DePaul University School of Music, Chicago Council on Science and Technology) says the Charlie Sheen fascination is a mixture of blurred lines between what is and isn’t news. (Broadcast News movie!) Harris
also brings up the idea Sheen’s media takeover was a long and brilliant series of “pseudo events.” Basically a succession of events manufactured for the purpose of media attention.
Lisa Skriloff (clients have included KL Advertising, E-tech, Globalworks and Zubi) recommends Sheen and his team played this well by using social media as the lead strategy in his marketing campaign. Skriloff suggested Sheen insulted his boss and religious groups, simply to test the boundaries. Nothing Sheen did or said was on accident. It all had a strong reason and strategy. A quote from Skriloff: “I don't think he was trying to do anything right on purpose. He was a celebrity already so by building his brand he gets immediate attention no matter what he does.”
Chet Dalzell (clients have included The Direct Marketing Association and Harte-Hanks) dislikes the Hollywood celebrity machine but is impressed with the role social plays in satisfying the publics’ cravings. Dalzell believes whether it is good or bad public relations buzz, social media can take an established brand (Sheen is the brand in this scenario) viral in an instant. This is precisely what happened.
Sheen doesn’t always get loopy when the cameras are running. About six months after the initial media frenzy, he was a presenter during the Primetime Emmy Awards. This time he was sans women and apparently sober. The timing couldn’t have been better. The awards happened on Sunday night and the following day Sheen had two important television events.
One was the premier of his old show, Two and a Half Men, with his character was being replaced with mega-celebrity Ashton Kutcher. Sheen’s character, “Charlie Harper” was killed off the show which in return opened the door for Kutcher. Sheen’s character was loosely based on his real-life bad boy antics of excessive drinking and womanizing. In the episode, Charlie Harper’s death involved scores of woman grieving over his casket. Sheen told TV Guide he would watch his "fake funeral attended by [his] fake ex-girlfriends, from [his] very, very real movie theater, with *his+ very real hotties in tow.” Life imitation art—art imitating life.
The second event Charlie was hoping to gain exposure for was the popular Comedy Central program “Roast.” The Charlie Sheen Roast occurred September 19, 2011 and was viewed by more than 6.4 million people; making it the highest rated roast ever for Comedy Central. While presenting at the Emmys, he couldn’t have chosen a better moment and stage to promote the two shows and his new, non-warlock persona. Sheen presented the award for Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, a category he once dominated.
The Roast of Charlie Sheen was a groundbreaking event in social media. Omnigon and Comedy Central teamed up to make the roast a complete “social” event. Omnigon is a team of creative technologists that have captured social media conversations around events such as the Daytona 500, the NBA draft and the US Open by turning the web chatter into visuals and giving fans a chance to interact in real time.
“The Charlie Sheen Roast is one of our biggest events of the year and we wanted to do something big and cool with it,” said Steve Grimes, Comedy Central’s Senior Vice President of Digital Media.
Using the information Omnigon collected via Twitter and other websites they created a platform viewers could react and interact during the roast. The dashboard provided a digital venue for all the social conversations occurring during the Sheen Roast via an integrated Twitter feed, “Share the Burn.” The feature allowed users to share their favorite moments of the roast.
Each celebrity participating in the roast had a logo of their head on the “Share the Burn” platform. Each head grew or shrank in size depending on his or her popularity. If a fan felt inclined, they could click on a head and discuss the celebrity’s performance on the show.
Sheen’s popularity was so enormous Comedy Central felt the need to bring the record audience even closer to the main attraction. According to Omnigon, over 300,000 Tweets were fed to the dashboard during the airing of the Charlie Sheen Roast and another 200,000 Tweets rushed in after the airing of the roast.
Back to his Emmy Awards appearance. Sheen went on to somewhat offer an olive branch of peace to the creators of Men (who he previously bashed and insulted) by saying, “I know you will continue to make great television.” Excellent work out of Sheen.
It’s so weird. He goes nuts and people eat it up. He lays low for a few months, the public begins to wonder where and how he is doing, he then appears in a custom suit and tie, says a few nice words and less than 24-hours later he has two monumental television shows airing.
Sheen’s outbursts were ultimately sad and pathetic. His drug abuse definitely took a toll on his mind, body and assumingly, his soul. But just as the public was fascinated with Anna Nicole Smith or Michael Jackson’s personal demons, Charlie Sheen would not, could not go away. Why do we, as the blue collar, while collar persons, bask in the glorious downfalls of those in the public eye?
Sheen’s madness had no boundaries. We ate up every word he spouted and laughed at every crack/cocaine and “Tiger’s Blood” mention. If the news the next day led with the death of Sheen, nobody would have been shocked. But he didn’t succumb to the abuse he gave his body and the public continued supporting him by purchasing tickets, buying apparel and following the self-proclaimed “battle-tested bayonet(s)” on Twitter.
The fact Sheen isn’t still ranting and raving, while wondering aimlessly on Mars, says to me it wasn’t by accident. Sure, most of his weirdness was drug-fueled, but he knew the limits; he saturated curious minds and then backed off. Whether Sheen is sober now or not is irrelevant. He has been out of the public eye for over 12 months and is slowly and strategically creeping his way back.
Sheen isn’t nearly as a prominent public figure in the early months of 2012. Everyone loves a comeback story and Sheen is on his way to the top. He claims to be working on several movie projects and insists he is sober. He no longer has “goddesses” hand-in-hand and even has some endorsement deals. The man who believes his name “rhymes with winning” even has a new sitcom in the works; aptly named “Anger Management.” Perfectly casted and aptly named.
Sheen has a very funny DIRECTV commercial that is airing now and a Fiat spot that pokes fun at the electronic anklet he is forced to don. After all his unusual behavior, Sheen has somehow remained out of the obituaries and in the public eye. I think he owes his public relations team a winning, Tiger-blood fueled high-five.
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