As we enter yet another month in the year of the apocalypse—a month that brings with it the promise of daffodils and dewdrops, of coming in like a lion and out like a lamb—I know there’s one question that’s been on so many of your minds lately:
What’s Charlie Sheen been up to lately?
Well, friends, in case you were worried that he and his Adonis DNA had taken a permanent hiatus, I’m here to tell you that he’s back, and ready for round two of capitalizing on his craziness.
His new show, Anger Management (based on the movie starring Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler), has just received a June 28 premiere date on FX; he recently announced that Ashton Kutcher sucks and then took it back; and he’s starring in two new ads, for Fiat and DirecTV, that give a not-so-subtle nod to the past year of his life.
In the words of Adweek, “Both are actually pretty damn good.”
Now, to fully appreciate Charlie Sheen’s latest foray into the advertising space, we must first take a quick journey back in time to exactly one year ago this week (yes, it’s been a year already)—when the actor’s tiger-blood-fueled goddess binges at Sober Valley Lodge first turned a train wreck into a marketer’s dream.
As you may recall, Sheen’s newfound powers of endorsement first emerged as his very public feud with Two and a Half Men producer Chuck Lorre was coming to a head, and some sort of personal meltdown/rebirth/psychotic break was taking hold. He joined Twitter on March 1, 2011, setting a Guinness World Record by garnering 1 million followers in his first day alone. (He’s now up to 6.76 million.) Soon after, he posted a photo of himself and one of his special lady friends holding some beverages—much to the unexpected delight of Broguiere’s Farm Fresh Dairy, the local California brand of chocolate milk Sheen displayed for the camera.
“I’d like to shake his hand,” owner Ray Broguiere told CNN Money. “We’ve gotten some new business and a lot of phone calls. We even had a guy from India asking where he could buy the milk. It’s good advertisement.”
Not surprisingly, within days, Sheen signed up with online ad agency Ad.ly, and was soon receiving $50,000 to tweet about his search for a “#winning INTERN with #TigerBlood” via Internships.com. Almost 100,000 people clicked on the provided link within the first hour, and over 80,000 people from 180 countries actually applied for the position. (By the way, the guy he ultimately hired just took a new job with the Obama campaign.)
We haven’t seen as much of Crazy Charlie in the past few months, but with his new show on the horizon and a wise break from the constant media barrage of all things Sheen, he’s reemerging to the amusement/horror/bewilderment of the general public—and, I hate to admit, he’s actually doing it in a way that works.
With Fiat aggressively promoting its Fiat 500 Abarth as a symbol of bad-ass masculinity (as seen in this year’s Super Bowl ad with Romanian model Catrinel Menghia), who better to represent their vision than the man who wanted to create his own “porn family” and managed to turn “winning” into a bad-ass verb? (Who even knew parts of speech could be bad-ass?)
The DirecTV spot plays up Sheen’s eccentric lifestyle over the past year by insinuating that a run-in with the star would inevitably lead otherwise sane people to become pawns in Sheen’s bizarre exploits.
Of course, there are folks who find these new ads to be less than enjoyable, which I completely understand. I’m not quite sure what took place last year when everyone was waiting for Charlie Sheen’s internal organs to spontaneously combust from too much…everything, but it wasn’t pretty. It was sad and disturbing on many levels—including the very real level that people were applauding the life of a man on the edge and wanted a piece of the action themselves.
Crushable.com author Jenni Maier noted in her post “Remind Me Why We’re Okay with Charlie Sheen Being Famous” that seeing the actor’s Fiat commercial made her regret believing that Sheen deserved a second chance.
“His life’s one big joke,” she observes, “and he’s happy to laugh along. After all, laughing is a lot easier than apologizing.”
But in the end, the public is very forgiving of its celebrities. Part of the fascination with star-gazing is watching the rise and fall and triumphant return of generations of famous people. We get caught up in the excitement of a new talent’s one-in-a-million chance to live out the dream. We look on with a rabid curiosity as they let it all slip away. And we rejoice when they pull themselves up by their bootstraps and become the it-girl/guy/man-child once again.
Time will tell what’s in store for Charlie Sheen, but by all accounts, these latest ads will likely prove to be a hit and may set the stage for some sort of semi-sane comeback when his new show debuts over the summer. One thing’s for sure, though—his crazy-train antics will only hold water for so long. No one really expects him to morph into some kind of reformed bad boy—after all, his whole career is based on having an edge. But he will have to cultivate a newer bad boy image in the coming year—one devoid of tiger blood and Adonis DNA—if he wants to stay relevant.
And that, Mr. Sheen, is the real Torpedo of Truth.