Programming Blog

Jeremy Morgan

Mostly Coherent Ramblings of a Silicon Forest Software Developer

The Charlie Sheen Strategy

By: Jeremy Morgan

If you haven’t heard or read the name “Charlie Sheen” last week, congratulations on managing to seal yourself away from all media. His very public breakdown has been all everyone is talking about. His all out, reckless self promotion is working great, but is it a good business approach?

Better to Burn Out Than Fade Away

The famous line from Kurt Cobain’s suicide note (and taken from a Def Leppard song) is no doubt the approach Charlie is taking. He’s outrageous, in your face and no holds barred. He’s talking to anyone who will listen and saying the most shocking things he can think of, while flaunting his rock star lifestyle.

There is  no doubt he started this run already famous, with decades of movies and a hit TV show under his belt, but now he’s in the news and on the web daily. He’s the hot topic, and growing hotter.

But is this an approach YOU can take with your company or brand?

Can you be outrageous, offensive and reckless?

Will it work?

Charlie Sheen as a business strategy.

There is no doubt he’s cashing in on this latest trainwreck of a media frenzy he’s caused. You could do the same if you wanted. You can be outrageous, over the top, offensive and out of control. You can create viral videos of yourself doing something incredibly stupid with your website on your back. You could do something incredibly offensive, and your enemies will advertise for you.

You can pull out all the stops and do whatever it takes to become famous. Your company or brand can be the trending topic on Twitter and you could get bloggers to go crazy talking about you, and you too would cash in. You could make giant piles of money cashing in on this instant fame.

But what about next month, when they’ve forgotten about you? What about next year? These waves never truly last, and it’s hard to keep people’s attention for long. What will you do then? Will you take the pile of cash and make something else work? Will anyone care?

When you’re infamous, the only thing people remember long term is the bad. The negative things associated with you will stay. Your credibility will be shot. Not only will people fail to take you seriously, they won’t trust you. You can no longer hold your head up high and have people look up to you. A turnaround is always possible, but very difficult to do.

Is this what you really want for your company, and your brand? Are you doing things just to get attention that you could regret later?  Is your reputation worth it?

Think about it.