Ideas that Influence

Tarnished Brand Image: a Tale of Two Sheens

Yesterday was a big news day for the Sheens.

Two of the sons of Hollywood heavyweight Martin Sheen found themselves at opposite ends of the news spectrum yesterday — when stories of both Emilio and Charlie hit the wires. Both involve alcohol, but to much different ends.

In what I can only assume was a very calculated PR move (and a brilliant one, I might add), big brother Emilio made headlines with his Casa Dumetz winery, which he owns and operates in Malibu, California. Emilio joins the ranks of other celebrity vintners, including Francis Ford Coppola, Madonna, Dan Aykroyd, and Dave Matthews. Unlike others who may be winemakers in name only, Estevez has been active in the process since he became involved in 2005. Despite the poor growing conditions, Casa Dumetz has managed to triple its output this year, and Malibu Village Wines reports that it routinely sells out of Casa Dumetz stock.

So, while the eldest Sheen goes from Brat Pack to wine rack, bad boy Charlie seems hell bent on not only trashing what’s left of his brand image, but killing himself in the process.

His latest escapades include his standard fare of booze, drugs and bimbos galore — and they predictably wrapped with Sheen once again being admitted to the hospital — this time reportedly for hiatal hernia. I’m no doctor, but I suspect that the combination of a “suitcase full of cocaine,” coupled with large amounts of alcohol is not a standard treatment regimen for this alleged recurring condition.

We’ve got two very compelling, and different brand lessons to take away from these stories.

First, any press is good press, and Emilio must have gotten the memo. While news of Casa Dumetz would no doubt have gotten decent traction on its own, his younger brother’s recent travails actually helped him garner more attention for this story. The timing of his news item was genius.

Now for the not-so-good news: The MTV show “Skins” has recently garnered headlines for its use of underage actors in inappropriate situations, and it has cost them a number of advertisers. Despite CBS repeated statements that they stand by Charlie Sheen because his after-hours behavior hasn’t impacted his work, one can’t help but wonder at what point Sheen’s tarnished brand image will become more than a “high level of concern” for CBS. My guess is that it will occur at roughly the same time as the first advertiser pulls out of the show.

Granted, Two and a Half Men is no Family Ties, but they still occupy a prime time slot in CBS’ lineup. If parents groups have not yet begun lobbying CBS to take action with Sheen, I’d be surprised. Hopefully CBS can see past the dollar signs long enough to get this troubled actor the help that he needs, before his life, and his brand, suffer any more damage.

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Meet Traci

There is no question why I do what I do. I genuinely enjoy it, and it makes me happy. There is something uniquely rewarding (and dare I say thrilling) about being able to take an image in your mind and breathe life into it. It's quite similar to the moment that Gene Wilder exclaims, "it's alive!" in Young Frankenstein...just without the squirrely hair. Learn more about Traci