A Different Charlie Sheen: What A Brand Manager Might Be Working On
The first thing you'd do is analyze this entertainment brand's current attributes , especially how consumers interact with it. Right now, you'd get a mixed picture -- and that wouldn't help things.
First, the current ratings of "Two and a Half Men" are pretty strong -- for CBS with original episodes, as well as for syndicated reruns on local stations, and on FX, where more reruns air.
Second, you might look at current consumer sentiments. Twitter reaction to Sheen isn't exactly on his side, especially in light of his $1.8 million per episode price tag -- the highest for any current TV actor.
This is where the value of the Sheen brand can slip into the abyss -- not just due to his off-the-set issues with ex-wives, hookers, business executives and executive producers, but now including bizarre comments such as some obviously anti-Semitic remarks -- stuff that is hard to take back.
Sounds like a lot to fix. CBS and Warner Bros. have canceled production of "Two and a Half Men" for the rest of this season -- but not the entire series. Right now, as a brand manager, you would have until next September to fix the image problems, if the client wants it and can be convinced to change given his off-again, on-again bouts in rehab.
CBS President/CEO Les Moonves has a special fondness for the importance of casting to a TV show's success. But he knows that radical adjustments may be needed for certain long-term casting decisions, in order to avoid profoundly negative effects down the road. When Sheen spoke ill of his executive producer - dismissing warnings from both CBS and Warner Bros not to talk on such subjects - he walked into the breach and spun the story onto another level.
And how will CBS market its current Monday night rerun airings of "Two and a Half Men" should Sheen continue his assault? Sheen plays a brash, party animal, but so far that hasn't affected the numbers of viewers, who know his off-screen behavior is more or less the same as his on-screen behavior
Sheen's "brand" has always conjured such words as "slacker," "playful," and "rogue." Now his brand image may have added some unwanted elements -- "mean," "hateful," and "inappropriate." And, once you've moved into the Mel Gibson territory with that range of adjectives, it's time to pack an extra bag for a longer stay.
The weird thing is, there are still some positives: Sheen always showed up for work when scheduled, and was reportedly never a "difficult" actor to work with. So, for a brand manager, that's a plus.
A couple of weeks, from now CBS and Warner Bros. will be thinking upfront thoughts - and pondering what happens to "Two and a Half Men" in the fall. The betting is for the series to return mid-season, giving Sheen almost a full year for things to settle down, and to get real long-term rehab. What spin -- if any -- should his handlers conjure up until then?
And what happens when -- and if -- he returns to the airwaves in the show? Will his extended time off have left open the window for always fickle TV viewers to find something else?
A lot can happen to an entertainment brand in a year. The best thing for brand Sheen to do is lie low -- and, for god's sake, stay away from texting and twittering! Many bridges can get burned.
But one thing TV audiences love more than anything is a good comeback story. That is what his brand management -- agent, business manager, publicist (who reportedly just left him) -- should be working on right now.