– By Jamil A. Karim
In the world of PR, you can pretty much classify all news and events under two categories: “Good PR” and “Bad PR”. Example: A firefighter saving an old lady from a burning building – “Good PR”. The CEO of a major corporation being brought down by a sex scandal – “Bad PR”. Seems pretty simple, right? However, counter-intuitive to its name, “Bad PR” may not be all that bad – if you’re the right person.
NOTE: This blog does not promote/endorse adultery, excessive drug use, or the mistreatment of animals.
The Charlie Sheen Experiment
It was around this time in 2011 when Charlie Sheen was the most popular man in North America, for seemingly all the wrong reasons. He was enduring his third stint (in 12 months) of substance rehab, and he had been dismissed from Two and a Half Men, the number one comedy show on TV. He soon went through a public meltdown, which included a dispute with the show’s creator, Chuck Lorre, a lawsuit against Warner Brothers, and a Youtube video of him smoking cigarettes through his nose.
As Sheen continued to meltdown, the world continued to watch. You turned on your TV, and there was Charlie Sheen. You opened up your newspaper, and there he was again. He even became one of the most, if not the most, famous Internet celebrity, as Sheen set a new Guinness World Record for Twitter attaining the “Fastest Time to Reach 1 Million Followers”, adding an average of 129,000 new followers per day.
It was around this time where the constant stream of “Bad PR” began to shift, and became a little blurry. Sheen had never been as prominent as he was during the summer of 2011, but was he prominent for all the wrong reasons? And if so, was this a huge problem? While most PR agencies would’ve been pulling their hair out if their client was sticking cigarettes up his nose and calling himself ‘a rock star from Mars’, this meltdown and stream of “Bad PR” helped pave the way for what was just a few months away: The comeback.
In the process of Charlie Sheen showing the world his worst, he attained a following that he never had during his 20-year stint in the public eye. Sheen then began to make a comeback, which culminated in September 2011 with a Comedy Central “Roast of Charlie Sheen”, which had 6.4 million viewers – by far the largest watched roast in Comedy Central history. His life is now back on track, as he’s spending time with his kids and has his own TV show, Anger Management, which debuted on June 28th. Anger Management broke a ratings record with 5.74 million viewers in its series debut and ranks as the most-watched sitcom premiere in cable history.
The “Bad PR” helped catapult Sheen into a stratosphere that few celebrities have reached. But, for every Charlie Sheen, there are hundreds of celebrities, politicians, and influencers who have not recovered: Tiger Woods, Rod Blagojevich, Joe Paterno, Lindsay Lohan, Mike Vick, and Michael Jackson. The list goes on. The value of “Bad PR” can often be measured by a prominent figure’s fall from grace. But in the instance of Charlie Sheen, he took on “Bad PR” and came out on top.
So what do you think? Sheen went through a stretch of textbook of “Bad PR”, which was viewed across every medium imaginable. Sheen survived this stretch, and depending how you look at it, may be better off now than he ever was. He now has a larger following, a new record breaking TV show (which will feature a guest appearance from Denise Richards), and a shot at being the biggest celebrity on the planet.
Was it worth it? Have you gotten over the 2011 “Bad PR” stretch? Are you a bigger Charlie Sheen fan now than you were before? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, than Charlie Sheen truly is…