The Charlie Sheen Guide to Winning! at Online Marketing

The Charlie Sheen Guide to <em>Winning!</em> at Online Marketing

Reader Comments (108)

  1. Sean and David,
    This is great. It’s funny, I was reading about Charlie’s twitter following exploding since his “rants” became so wildly obsessive. Pretty crazy.

    He definitely has a way of polarizing people…but they are following….for sure.

    Take care,

    • Brandon – Thanks! Sheen didn’t even have a Twitter account until this thing broke. He started it and actually set a Guiness Word Record for the fasted gathering of one million followers.

      • He did it faster than Ashton Kutcher. And he took weeks and a major ‘Twitter Followers’ campaign. Charlie owns social media and has it by the back hairs. Pay attention ’cause I predict there’s much more coming.

  2. I appreciate the tongue-in-cheek tone and the points themselves are certainly valid, but let’s not emulate Mr. Sheen too much. Nobody wants to do business with a train wreck.

    • Here here – I’m always worried about using people with unpleasant or negative practices as role models, because there is the correlation vs. causation fallacy – in some cases, they’ve succeeded IN SPITE of their actions, not BECAUSE of them.

    • We’re not suggesting you adopt the negative self destructive qualities, but rather the positive. And clearly, these tactics wouldn’t work for everyone. For instance, my wife would castrate me the first time I brought a porn star home to babysit.

        • LOL. Yeah, that might have been a bit hard to explain. Perhaps you can bring one home as a cook or maid. And to make sure your wife doesn’t feel left out, hire a male porn start to deliver some pizza.
          Brown chicken brown cow.

    • Spot on. This smells like bottom feeding of the worst sort. You can rationalize all you want, but embracing any of Sheen’s behavior is to enable it in others. This is life and death stuff you’re toying with.

      • Thanks for the comment. We’re not embracing Sheen’s destructive behavior at all, as we point out where he went wrong and what people can learn from it. Sheen actually serves as a lesson in what NOT to do. However, one can extract some of the things which have worked for him without going down the road to ruin.

    • Which is why he’s a great example for us all. You should never start believing your own you know what – and know ever when you bring money to the bottom line you can get canned if you take it too far. No one likes a prima donna – which is you need to worry about – emulate what Charile did right – and learn from what he did wrong. Taking risks means you should get as close to the line as you can – but know if you decide to cross it, there are consequences and make sure the risk is worth it. Great post Sean – you made us think – which is better than spraying perfume on the same ole boring point of views – you win the award from me today..You are Truly Outrageously Authentic. AND the greatest guy I know. And the one guy i know who would NEVER make ANY of the mistakes Charlie did. Your biggest weakness is you give too much and never push your way to the front of the line – when sometimes you should. 🙂

  3. Okay, so you have leveraged the sensation… smart move. Respect.

    I think Charlie Sheen doing good, he is being what he should be, a man with balls, in this world of actors and liars…

    Not many can do that when suggested sums of money with 6 zeros and more…

    So i suggest keep a close eye on him and what happens there and try to learn your lessons.

    Be Winning, coz right is every single wrong…

  4. Good post guys. That’s the problem with radically standing out – people either love or hate you. I can’t think of two more extreme examples then Howard Stern and Rush Limbo. They are different night and day – yet the majority of folks not in their inner circle criticize them. Yet they are very popular and rake in millions.

    Charlie “might” have some medical issues, which could be diagnosed as organic disease (i.e. by general medical practitioner) or abnormal (i.e. psychiatry using Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). So I will defer judgment, pending him seeking medical advice and counsel.


  5. It was only a matter of time before this showed up on Copyblogger 🙂

    That said, I’m flabergasted you managed to find so many good points to talk about, though I’m not about to copy Charlie Sheen on anything, anytime soon. I can admired someone “being themselves” but of course “being yourself” doesn’t mean other people will want to deal or do business with you. It’s a fine line, but I dig the article, very well thought out.

  6. Brilliant approach and excellent writing. A well done angle adding much-needed lemon zest to the mix of bashing and stating the obvious. You guys are purists and I love it. Thanks for adding much-needed value on this topic. I appreciate your time.

  7. Love the post but I can’t help thinking there’s a glimmer of an implication there is some kind of rationale or strategy behind what Charlie Sheen is doing. I really don’t think there is and I can’t help feeling a bit sorry for the poor love. That said his quotes are incredible – copywriting gold.

  8. Creative approach to an over-discussed topic, and I appreciate the satirical approach. However, I have to say that it seems that we’re all about attention at any cost these days. I’m pretty sure we are becoming a cumulative Narcissus, getting ready to dive head first into that pond. Maniacal rants aren’t really about consistent behavior, but I guess if getting attention is the only yardstick in this game then Charlie is the big winner.

  9. Sorry, but I think you just lost me as a reader. I think Sheen is an idiot and anyone who thinks his approach is funny, smart or engaging is not someone I’m interested in reading/listening to. As professionals, do you really want to Charlie Sheen’s antics to advise clients on what they should do? I don’t.

  10. I love it!

    The dos and don’ts of #Winning. I am pretty sure that what Charlie Sheen is up to is putting on an extended “live” performance piece that is simply a lot more skillfully orchestrated than that of Britney Spears back in 2007.

    When you are an actor at that level, everything is an opportunity to perform, entertain, and even disgust an audience.
    Nice work, guys!


  11. Another gem, Sean and David. Wish I wrote this, but I was too busy writing something for a client this morning.
    Such is life.

  12. There’s a lot that’s CORRECT about Charlie Sheen. Someone said that too much honesty comes off as Mental Illness.

    He’s pointing out how different (better) his life is than ours.

    Where he went wrong was not showing gratitude. He mixes in some genuine gee-shucks gratitude and people can tolerate more. But he doesn’t.

    • Yes, a bit of sugar makes everything go down easier. While people overlooked his abuse charges and drug abuse, they find it harder to like a guy who seems like an ungrateful egomaniac who looks down on others, when they’re likely busting their asses just to make a living.

  13. What I really want out of all this is a Vatican Assassin Warlock movie. That has “winning” written all over it.

    There’s “authenticity as a carefully crafted strategy” and then there’s “holy shit WTF did you just say authenticity.”

    What has been Sheened… cannot be un-Sheened.

  14. Fantastic post guys (and it’s a better version of one I rushed out last week 😉 )!

    But I don’t really get the comments above. You’re not really being told to go out and blow millions on sniff and hookers. This is still a marketing blog, not a lifestyle guide.

  15. To some extent, Sheen is getting attention because he is a train wreck. Don’t do that part.

    And to some extent, Sheen is getting attention because he’s articulating a particular point of view in an extremely bold and fresh way. Do do that part.

  16. I winced when I saw Charlie Sheen’s name in Copyblogger. He conjures up such negative images on many levels that I think it would have been better for Copyblogger and its readers to have vetoed this article before it hit the press. Although the article is well written, I had a bad feeling after wading through it and hope that Copyblogger will stay away from such bad boy/girl media stars in the future.

    • Don, why not try to learn from what resonates with you and leave the rest?

      I heard approximately one bazillion Charlie Sheen references this past weekend at SXSW. People who never talk about popcult were telling Sheen jokes. People who never watched his show were talking about him. It’s not just the crazy (otherwise we’d be talking about Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Richie). There’s an energy to Sheen that’s interesting to try and understand.

      I will tell you from my own experience that learning from people you can’t stand is a tremendous skill to cultivate. Both for your business and for your growth as a person.

  17. While I don’t approve of the man — he has been arrested for domestic violence which many who write about his antics fail mention, I have watched with interest as he is playing social media like a fiddle. Either he inherently “gets it” or is working with someone who does. Either way, it has sort of become my guilty pleasure in watching it unfold.

    Lots of great points in this post (as is the case with all your posts and why I subscribe). Keep up the great work!

  18. Sean and David,

    You guys are warlocks of #winning. You have flown your F-18’s and dropped torpedoes of truth for us all to enjoy.

    One thing Sheen said was actually quite inspirational in a very strait forward manner (unlike some of the stranger stuff) that you can glean some good lessons from…

    “Can’t is the cancer of happen”

    That is actually a REALLY good one and quite even removed from the context of Sheen and his issues…

  19. Too funny, yet so so true. Charlie may be a train wreck, but he definitely knows how to work it when it comes to selling himself and the shows he does. Glad you pointed that out.

  20. This is fucking brilliant Sean and David!

    I loved every point but “#1 Be Yourself” made me think of sharing a resource here that I thought’d be useful. It’s called “How To Stubbornly Refuse To Be Ashamed Of Anything” by the esteemed Dr. Albert Ellis.

    This is a taped presentation of his that he did in New York City talking about how shame is responsible for so much misery here on earth. And no, not the shame that comes from raping or murdering but from stupid things like shame that arises in your desire to actually state your preferences and stand up for yourself when you don’t agree with someone. That kind of shame.

    In the audio he talks about ways to win the shame game by doing things in public you’d never usually do. One experiment I’ve played with lately is leaving on the pink and red nail polish my 4 year old niece applied to my toe and finger nails when we’ve played “Nail Salon”.

    As a grown ass macho man, I’m supposed to be embarrassed to shit by this. And at first, I was. I’d try to hide my finger nails by curling up my hands but I got tired of it. It was stupid that I was so caught up in what strangers thought of me. And now, I leave the polish, all busted to hell on my nails for weeks on end paying zero mind to having it on. This was one small way I’ve chipped away at the beast that is petty shame.

    Tim Feriss talked about this in 4 Hour Workweek giving the shame reduction exercise to people of laying down on the floor of Starbucks while waiting in line to put your order in for your coffee. I love that idea. Just be careful when you do this one though, that there’s not a skirt in front or in back of you, as you might catch a flat or heel to the eye!

    I love the idea of being free to be me. For a long time it wasn’t like that. And there’s still some junk I need to have hauled away.

    But I thank you guys for sharing these awesome tips on how to win by being yourself and inching me closer to the me I want to be!

    • Thanks, Lewis!
      I used to live in fear of everything (mostly what other people thought). Then one day I woke up and realized how stupid my fears were. That by fearing life, I was in fact choosing not to live.

      So I let go. And began to live.

      Thanks for this thoughtful comment.

  21. The Tao of Sheen!
    I heard an interview last week with a marketer (name alludes me) who was with Sheen during his so called breakdown. He said that people should keep in mind that Sheen is a consummate comedian & that everything he is doing has been calculated. In a skit he did for “Funny or Die” entitled “Winning Recipes” ( he makes reference to his getting a million twitter followers in one day and being the first man to be on every media outlet available. What ever his game, psycho or not, he’s winning the branding game. He has overshadowed any bad press he might have received from his network fallout.

    • I just watched that very humorous video, and now I’m starting to suspect that Sheen knows exactly what he’s doing. We may be all getting played, and he really is winning. Definitely food for thought (no pun intended).

      • My kids are horrified by him – so thank YOU Charlie Sheen for PROVING what you do wrong matters much more than what you do right. And also parents – remind kids what they do online stays forever. Charlie will get healthy again, addicts always do and he’ll have a nice digital library to reference when making his “amends” whatever step that is of the 12.

      • After watching a little of that video, I am convinced that Charlie Sheen has NOT known exactly what he’s doing all along.

        What he did do? Hire a brilliant PR person and equally brilliant copywriter to turn his initial PR f-ups into comic genius.

        And NOW he’s #winning.

        • Jess, I think you’re right. He has the resources to bring in talent, and from the looks of things, there’s an entire team behind this farce.

          • I’m not sure this was calculated strategy. Listening to some of his older (and recent) interviews, I suspect his rants are more often cocaine-fueled than strategic works of genius. I do think he’s made more of this than most people in his shoes would, though, and that he will come out with some sort of win.

            If he doesn’t completely self destruct before that win is realized.

          • David (replying to Sonia b/c I can’t reply to you for some reason),

            Oh, I DEFINITELY think Charlie Sheen is fueled by cocaine and/or other substances. And, while I’m not comparing the dude to legendary artistic geniuses, there are plenty of famous arty-types who have created some great stuff while, um, altered. So I do think Sheen could be calculating and genius and high – all at the same time. Not the way I’d go, but seems to be working for him. That is, until he self-destructs.

            Related: 48 famous literary drunks and addicts:


  22. Great post you guys!! And I’m so pleased to see that so many readers can see past their disgust for Charlie Sheen and take the learning points away. No one is saying Charlie Sheen should be the next President of the USA but the way this guy is working the social media it wouldn’t surprise me if someone suggested it. Of course the danger is that Sheen would believe it was possible.

    Tell me it’s not possible. Please.

  23. Never heard of him before today. But it seems he did something splendid with his new approach. Well I am trying to do something splendid with my approach but who knows it might end up in havoc.

  24. Hyper mania can be an extremely creative state — Charlie Sheen is living proof. He has become the poster boy for unmedicated bipolar AND self-promotion!
    The thing about Charlie, as you point out, is he’s 100% genuine. He stands behind everything he says and makes no apology.
    Not only has he coined memorable catch phrases, they are Charlie catch phrases.
    When you not only remember the ine but the product it’s associated with, that’s good branding.

    Thanks for a novel spin on the Charlie Sheen phenom.
    I never, ever thought I would want to emulate CS, but you’ve shown me the error of my thinking!

  25. Great post! I agree that though CS isn’t exactly Mr. Sane and Healthy Lifestyle Role Model, with the blitz of attention he’s generated, on some level he knows what he’s doing (or his publicists do).

    What I’d like to know is, what about Jon Cryer? Poor guy. Lost in the chaos. He seems to be staying out of it, which wins him points for class. I always thought he was the funny one, personally. His comedic timing is perfect.

  26. I’m not impressed with this attempt to turn Sheen into a role model. The people that are fascinated by the self destructive behavior of celebrities are not my market, and although I know it’s important to be authentically me in my marketing and newsletters, I can’t see anything in him that I would emulate. He’ll just be a footnote in the bloated history of celebrities behaving badly anyway.
    I’ll take my inspiration from @gapingvoid, who wrote, “Life is too short not to do something that matters.” Sheen doesn’t matter. Let’s find something that does.

  27. Well stated.

    I rarely watch television and have been on a deadline to boot, but even I have heard of Charlie Sheen.

    Thanks for the catchphrase suggestion, although I’ll steer clear of a tarnished image. 🙂

  28. I never imagined someone writing a post on internet marketing based on Charlie Sheen.

    Haha, nice post though.

  29. Be yourself! That’s something that is often quoted at CB. But it’s often advice not heeded by many for fear of backlash. Sometimes that backlash marketing folks!

  30. I think using Charlie as a “what not to do” is an excellent example. Those who think you are using him as a role model are not “getting it” I guess. The point here is “WHAT WORKS” and you have to admit that he is drawing a large amount of press by his antics. I could be anyone other than Sheen, but because of his celeb status, it has more impact on the final outcome. Thanks for the great article!

  31. I really appreciate this post for all of its lessons learned from Charlie’s crash and burn.

    I’d like to think that something good may come out of this human tragedy. The truth is, I really like Charlie and I care about him as a person even though he is an untouchable celebrity. He is playing out every parent’s nightmare about an addicted, mentally ill child who spirals downward from their substance of choice. I hope he gets the help he needs before it is too late. I’m hoping there will be a redemption story to follow.

  32. I know a publicity stunt when I see one… we are all thinking he is losing it, but actually, he has succeeded in grabbing the attention of almost everyone on the planet in order to promote…. gasp…. a world tour called “My Torpedo of Death/Defeat is not an Option”. It has been selling out rapidly in each city as and when tickets go on sale, anywhere from $50 to $750.00 (if you want to meet Sheen personally). He has succeeded in elevating his hum drum existence into super stardom. Nuff said.

  33. This is funny, I’m still up in the air on whether he actually needs help or if it’s a well-thought out publicity ploy. I’m leaning toward the latter – until the earthquake he was news media “winning” for sure. Which is sad.

  34. One way to look at this post and what Charlie Sheen has been doing is sort of along the lines of the old saying, “you have to spend money to make money”.

    I think what Sean and David are trying to say is to be truly successful you have to be willing to lose everything. The biggest obstacle to success is the fear of failure. Granted, this may be an over-simplification of the things but it’s what I got out of it.

  35. I’ve been hearing “be yourself” maybe a million times. Even the worst criminals and psycopaths say that. And I tend not to disagree with that. “Be yourself” seems right at first glance.

    The problems comes when you realize that people see themselves differently. Even those with low self-esteem can think that they are just being themselves.

    Nowadays in my public speaking seminars, I encourage people to aim for the “be the your best version of yourself’. I ask them to define their best persona and show it all the time. I think we should do the same in online marketing. Show our best self.

    I read every word of this article. I do not think that you want us to follow Charlie Sheen and you made some good points.

    Thank you.

  36. I knew Sean would jump on the Charlie Sheen #winning meme.

    When you guys wrap up your post in this fashion:

    “Be a winner! Say what you want about Charlie Sheen. Fact is, he’s got millions of people paying attention, eager to see what he’ll do next. How many people are paying attention to your brand?”

    It pretty much negates any pretense at satire and reads like a glowing endorsement.

    What really gets me is that no one here pays the slightest attention to the fact that this sleazoid Charlie Sheen (who shot Kelly Preston in the arm, by the way) is willing to lose shared custody of his kids in the pursuit of his narcissistic satisfaction.

    They don’t seem to rate.

    I’m disgusted.

    • Vince – What? I don’t get any of the blame?

      As for the closing lines, they are meant to suggest instead of casting stones at others, look at your own brand and consider some things you might learn from those you don’t agree with. There are lessons everywhere (what to do — and what not to do) if we take the time to look and approach the matter with an open mind.

      I think some of the responses to this post prove my point — people get so wrapped up in their own feelings that they fail to see the point or opportunities to learn.

      Criticize Sheen all you want, and there’s much to criticize, but he’s still succeeding at building his brand and attracting offers for work. Reports Monday, are that both FOX and CBS want him to work for them, with CBS begging him to come back to Two and a Half Men. Despite everything, Sheen will get his way. Or in his words, he’s still #WINNING!

    • Vince, any lifelong learner can benefit from the examples of others, positive or negative, just as we often learn more from our missteps and failures than we do from our triumphs.

      This post is in no way a “glowing endorsement” of Chuck.

      Copyblogger readers are intelligent writers, marketers and budding bloggers who can tell the difference between tongue-in-cheek copy and a tutorial on how to be a jerk.

      We weren’t trying to be controversial, we took existing controversy, then used the bullet points of Copyblogger dogma to blow it up – an attention getting headline, followed by quality copy delivering on the promise.

      Anyone reading this and thinking that we, or Copyblogger, hold Sheen as a standard to be followed, or a model of acceptable behavior, is obviously missing the point.

  37. Thanks for your replies, David and Sean, even though you both missed my point in your defensiveness.

    I didn’t say your post was a glowing endorsement of Charlie Sheen. I said the wrap-up read like one, and I stand by my belief that the ‘lessons’ you derive give the lie to your pretense that this is really tongue-in-cheek.

    I think it’s disgusting the way the herd fawns over a person of such low character as Sheen.

    So what if FOX want to hire him. That’s your standard? CBS is begging him to come back to Two and a Half Men? Shame on them.

    I know it’s hopeless to engage you guys on this subject, and that doing so is like arguing with Ezra Klein about Jay-Z, because the only metric he uses to gauge the rap impresario’s success is that he’s worth over 400 million dollars.

    You obviously have a different notion of what winning is than I do.

    Every day I feel more and more that I’m living in a bizarro-world where the very dregs of society are lionized and rewarded for their bad behavior.

    Rick Rubin was one of the main instigators of this trend in entertainment, and is the living master of the vile alchemy that transforms low criminals and miscreants into models for our children.

    Charlie Sheen has nothing to teach decent people except how not to behave. You must be getting desperate for material.

    He’s a hero to hundreds of thousands of immature wanna-be playboys whose development as social human beings was arrested at about age sixteen, and that’s the target audience for the advertisers, so anything goes.

    That’s #LOSING in my book.

    I think it’s deplorable that you are trying to to legitimize him in such a self-serving way, especially in this venue.

    • Vince – If you think this post is legitimizing Sheen or his lifestyle, you miss the point. To look outside ourselves, at someone far different (as Sheen is), and extracting lessons from that is not the same as as celebrating him.

      As a writer, you write about the world around you, the good and the bad. And to say all things are black and white and no good can be found in something bad is a simplistic approach.

      As for success, we each define our own. And to try and apply MY morals towards Sheen’s success does what, exactly? What does Sheen care what I, or you, think about his lifestyle? He defines his success by his own terms. As do we. And as much as we may laugh, or cry, for him, it matters not in the big picture.

      I used to get worked up about the antics of celebrities and politicians all the time, and sometimes I still do when I’m on a humorous rant. But if I spent my days tilting at windmills, complaining about how the world celebrates people I loathe, I’d be a miserable person. So, I choose to look at things from a different perspective and find lessons where I can. We may disagree that there are lessons to be found in Sheen’s situation, and that’s fine. It’s a matter of opinion and we’re entitled to our own.

      Say what you will about Sheen, he is succeeding at something many people cannot figure out – how to get people to pay attention to them or their brand. I happen to believe you CAN extract knowledge from his situation without becoming an egomaniacal drug addict.

      Thank you for your comments.

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