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As Charlie Sheen Files $100M Lawsuit, Who’s Really Winning?

Posted by Sheila Shayon on March 10, 2011 02:00 PM

Not satisfied to set a Guinness World Record, Charlie Sheen clearly feels he needs to be even more "winning." The verbose actor today filed a $100 million lawsuit against Two and a Half Men producer Chuck Lorre and Warner Bros. Television, which produces the hit series for CBS.

Who else is winning from Sheen’s public tirades and manic self-promotion? Consider brands like Zazzle, a Silicon Valley startup whose business — instant customization of 50 or so products — has catapulted overnight to feed a public eager to capture Sheen's catchphrases on t-shirts.

By popular demand on zazzle.com, they’ve been churning out t-shirts with variations on Sheen’s "winning," "tiger blood" and other bon mots at a steady clip, making up a healthy chunk of the 150,000 user-customized products it manufactures daily. Its instant response to the Sheen phenom also garnered it a CNN profile this week.

Ad.ly. was also thrust into the spotlight by association with the actor's public meltdown, as it helped Sheen launch on Twitter. 

“We are pioneering the celebrity endorsement market in digital media, tapping the $50 billion spend on endorsements worldwide as well as the $35 billion spent in digital advertising," said CEO Arnie Gullov-Sing last month.

When we covered Ad.ly’s Top 10 Celebrity Consumer Influence Index, Sheen was nowhere to be seen. 

“If people are the new publishers, then people are also the future of advertising, and celebrities are the new ‘prime time.’ That’s why we define influence as the ability to get people to visit places on the Web. This simple metric is essential to social media marketing. It’s how brands will decide where to spend their money,” said Gullov-Singh.

Sheen defines the new model of ‘prime time’ in more ways than one, and direct to the consumer social marketing that enables anyone (including celebrities) to bypass traditional PR and marketing avenues and make their case directly in the court of public opinion — in partnership with an eager public.

According to Ad.ly, Sheen's first paid tweet – sent March 7th on behalf of Internships.com, as he was looking for a social media intern – generated:


  • 95,333 clicks in the 1st hour
  • 412,000 clicks in 48 hours
  • A worldwide trending topic #TigerBloodIntern
  • Internships.com received 74,040 applications
  • Applications came in from 181 countries.


Internships.com also became an overnight success – rising from obscurity to headline brand overnight. 

“Celebrities just happen to be the people with the largest audiences and therefore offer the greatest scale in social media…Celebrity endorsements enable brands to stand out, whereas buying ads on Facebook and Twitter only makes brands part of the noise,” says Gullov-Singh of the multibillion-dollar celebrity endorsement market.

Or as he tweeted: “Whatever your opinion of him, it’s clear Charlie Sheen is an advertiser’s dream.” 

Seems that Sheen is indeed “riding the media tsunami on his mercury surfboard,” as business, media and advertising monetize the wave.

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