Why Charlie Sheen Matters

As I write this, hundreds of mainstream media reporters are dismissing Charlie Sheen as a sad example of a Hollywood star on the decline. But have you noticed that those same media outlets devote tons of ink and countless hours of airtime to each and every pronouncement by Sheen? As a creator of econtent, Sheen is #WINNING.

Please note that this is not a comment on the actor's morals, choices, companions, language, or hairstyle. It is a comment on his use of econtent tools, his marketing, and his PR savvy. Charlie Sheen says what he thinks, when the time is right for him, by self-publishing content and cleverly using social networking. He tweets, he produces videos, and he has a live stage show; as a result, he owns search engine results -- and the media report his every move in real time, pointing directly to the econtent that he himself has created.

In short, Charlie Sheen is doing exactly what I've been talking about in this column for nearly a decade. He publishes interesting, valuable information that people want to consume and are eager to share with their friends. So as a case study in the use of econtent to achieve marketing success, Charlie
Sheen matters.

I wore a "Duh, Winning!" T-shirt at the SXSW festival in March for about 8 hours total, and more than 100 people acknowledged it. Seriously! A hundred people gave me a thumbs-up, a high five, or a "cool shirt" comment. One person said, "That's the best T-shirt I've seen in my entire life." Several wanted photos of the shirt. Now that's econtent success.

When Sheen decided to take his act on the road in April, he booked 20 dates and announced his Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat Is Not an Option tour. Guess what? He didn't need to spend a penny to promote the tour! Nearly 1,000 media outlets happily did that for him at no cost. The media says: "Poor Charlie Sheen. ... He's so sad. ... Oh, and he's doing a tour." All of the free publicity created enough demand for tickets that many shows sold out at an average price of about $50 a ticket.

I caught the Boston show, which took place about 2 weeks after the poorly reviewed opening night in Detroit. I watched his show as a professional speaker. I'm someone who knows what it's like to be given a stage for an hour in front of more than 1,000 people. I see a lot of bad presentations on the speaking circuit: best-selling authors who think they deserve the stage and do not craft a speech; CEOs who talk incessantly about their company's stupid products; an Olympian who thinks showing a few video clips from the race is enough.

Sheen was head and shoulders above them, leading off by coming out from the back of the room boxer-style, with security around him. The entire audience was on its feet. This was a good opener. He delivered his now famous one-liners often, throwing "winning," "tiger blood," and "trolls" around every so often. This was good because it got the audience on his side. Give 'em what they want.

Early on, he turned his teleprompter around so we could see it. (It displayed, "How do you like Boston?") He then went on a mini-rant about how "these teleprompters are the electronic tools of trolls." I thought that was hysterical.

The intermission was fascinating. His YouTube video "Charlie Sheen: the Unedited Version" played on the big screen. It was, actually, kind of cool-the virtual version of Sheen serving as entertainment during the intermission of his live show. I also quite liked how he took a photo of the audience and had a helper tweet it live. It was a nice touch -- creating econtent live on stage.

Yes, the show dragged in parts, but Charlie Sheen is damn good at being Charlie Sheen, and that's what I paid for, so I was satisfied. I'm glad I went. I'm convinced that Sheen is enjoying himself immensely during this period in his life.

Sheen matters because he understands the power of information. He has the media hanging on his every word. Most importantly, he is getting what he wants and seems to be having a good time.

You may not like his lifestyle, but you've got to admire his use of econtent.