Follow the money

So what are the chances that Charlie Sheen’s much publicised “breakdown” is a reality-style seeding exercise? Depends how cynical you are I guess. But it is an interesting coincidence isn’t it that within just a few days the man has created a larger-than-life controversy, attracted two million people to his Twitter account and now signed to the latest version of the celebrity endorsement.

That seems very organised.

Serendipity? You decide.

One of the key principles of direct marketing is to always work back from the result. And I think it was David Ogilvy’s mantra to say as much as you need to say in order to make the sale. Well, if the “sale” is Charlie Sheen as a wild-child pitchman on Twitter, mission accomplished. He’s said more than enough. And lawsuits and media statements guarantee there’s plenty more to come. And if the intended result was also a new sense of profile and validation for social media monetisation models, again mission accomplished.

As this article points out:

All the attention has brought a huge amount of exposure to the business of social media advertising. Though companies have been working advertisements into Twitter and Facebook for more than two years, it’s a sometimes unnoticed practice. “A lot of people know about the business now,” says Ad.ly CEO Arnie Gullov-Singh. “It’s a validation of the business that we’re building and the overall industry changes that we’re a part of.”

I find this emerging model an interesting one, not least because it seems to bring together sectors that have tended to remain unconverged. It appears to combine the proven money-making power of the gossip industry with the reach and immediacy of Twitter and the corporate funding of advertisers keen to reach specific demographics. That’s a pretty powerful circle if you think about it.

So what role has Charlie Sheen really played in reinforcing the next iteration of the corporate pitch? Is this model to Twitter and Facebook what Adwords was to Google? Will it further inflate social media company valuations? Too early to tell of course. You and I both know we’ll just have to follow the story.

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