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Charlie Sheen: Social Media’s New Marketing Genius of 2011

Regardless of what term you use to describe Charlie Sheen and his latest antics, you can’t deny that he’s absolutely everywhere. Catch phrases like “Winning,” “Tiger blood,” “Rock Star from Mars,” and “Violent torpedo of death” have become household terms and nearly everything Sheen has posted online has become viral overnight. Aside from receiving $1.25 million per episode of Two and a Half Men, Sheen was also the first person to gain one million Twitter followers over the course of an evening, which also scored him a Guinness World Record.

Crazy? Maybe.

Anger issues? A few.

Genius? Depends on how you look at it.

Regardless of what term you use to describe Charlie Sheen and his latest antics, you can’t deny that he’s absolutely everywhere.  Catch phrases like “Winning,” “Tiger blood,” “Rock Star from Mars,” and “Violent torpedo of death” have become household terms and nearly everything Sheen has posted online has become viral overnight.  Aside from receiving $1.25 million per episode of Two and a Half Men, Sheen was also the first person to gain one million Twitter followers over the course of an evening, which also scored him a Guinness World Record.

Remember Joaquin Phoenix, the actor who faked his retirement to pursue a career as a hip hop star in the music industry?  Phoenix appeared on David Letterman’s Late Show in February of 2009 and appeared to have stayed in his “new” character throughout the interview, appearing to be on the verge of a mental breakdown.  Rumors say that Phoenix was using the publicity stunt as a way to boost exposure to his spoof independent film about a hip hop artist, but that was never confirmed (nor denied).   So what from that situation relates to Sheen?  Ah, right.. Phoenix is an actor.  After watching many video streams and interviews in which Charlie Sheen can be considered crazy or nearing mental breakdown, I’ve come to the conclusion that his team of writers have taken the CBS curveball and hit it out of the park.  Sheen simply isn’t getting lucky by achieving added exposure, sold out “comedy stints,” and t-shirts selling like hotcakes.  He’s earning it!

So just what exactly has Charlie Sheen done to be considered a self-promotional, marketing guru?  Let’s take a look.

Staying in the conversation.  As stated before no matter where you look, whether it be your favorite news outlet online or on television, Charlie Sheen is there.  Regardless of how much the product is flawed, he’s benefiting and profiting from all of the added attention he, and his team, have generated.

Execute something big before the real marketing takes place.  This should go without saying to anyone in the marketing/advertising field.  Before kicking off any campaign, there is usually something generated to spark interest or create conversation.  In terms of Sheen, his interviews and/or tirades immediately following his departure from CBS spawned everything.  His rants and use of wordplay began the catch phrases that are currently in the process of being trademarked.

Create something catchy.  Here it is, my Rebecca Black tie-in.  No matter how absolutely horrendous Black’s song “Friday” may be, it’s been etched in the heads of millions upon millions around the world.  Something does not have to be brilliant to be catchy, it can also be brilliantly bad.  Case in point?  Those Charlie Sheen catch phrases.  For weeks on end, those catch phrases were some of the hottest trends on Twitter, being retweeted and incorporated by users around the world.  Charlie Sheen created an internet meme himself, instead of being turned into a meme by the users.  Brilliant.  Oh, he’s laughing all the way to the bank thanks to those phrases.  Bi-brilliant!

Being transparent.  Absolutely everything that Charlie Sheen has done since his outbursts have been either made public via social media, interviews, or his UStream features, which are growing rapidly.  Sheen has been successfully utilizing these accounts all while making sure everyone can see his every move.  In fact, Charlie Sheen (smartly) recorded himself handing his children over to LAPD under judge orders stating that they should be returned to Brooke Mueller.  Smart move, Charlie…invite the world to see the fatherly figure you are, leaving the catch phrases and anger for other outlets all while gaining sympathy support.

Create something tangible.  What did Conan O’Brien do after being removed from NBC in early 2010?  He turned to social media, created viral support, and went on tour!  What did Charlie Sheen do?  He created a cult following and debuted the Violent Torpedo of Death Tour.  Let’s be honest, this tour would have not sold out had it have been for all of the publicity, erm.. proper marketing techniques, being deployed by Sheen and his team.  What’s the payoff?  A 21 date tour (all sold out) which is generating Charlie between $250,000 and $275,000 per show.  After merchandising and after-party appearances, Charlie is on par to earn $7 million per month.  Not a bad ROI considering this all stemmed from some outbursts that were sent viral.

Leaving personal views aside while looking at the current state of Charlie Sheen, one should admire how he’s handled himself and built his name to be a household term as well as a selling feature.  He’s currently looking for social media interns, which highly suggests that he is far from giving up on this endeavor that he and his team have embarked on.  This all happened incredibly fast and in-the-moment for the Sheen Team.. hey, that’s what Social Media is, right?  Creating a viral buzz and riding the wave.

It doesn’t hurt that Charlie has now generated over 3 million followers on Twitter and an extra 1 million fans on Facebook.  He also just opened up the CharlieSheen.com webstore to shove into the faces of his new cult following.  Crazy or crazy-rich? You do the math.

That’s called winning.

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