OK. I admit that I’m fascinated with this week’s news that Ashton Kutcher is taking over for Charlie Sheen on the #1 TV sitcom “Two and a half Men.”
Somewhere inside this whole mess with Charlie (“winner”) Sheen, producer Chuck (“my way or the highway”) Lorre, Warner Bros and CBS which stand to make/lose tens of millions lies some big business and marketing lesson. I’m just not sure which one is the most interesting.
Biggest Two and a half Men Marketing Issues: Vote for your choice
There’s the PR / damage control. The threat of losing a major cash cow. The impact of a tarnished key product that makes selling other products much easier. The customer’s reaction to a drastic change in a popular product. The disgruntled ex-key employee badmouthing you to anyone who’ll listen.
Wow…What a bonanza!
Do you mess with what works even if you hate it?
Two and a half Men was projected to earn CBS and Warner Bros. $250 Million in 2012. Even with bad boy Charlie doing his thing, the money rolled in. So, is it even a good idea to dump Sheen and bring in Kutcher - thereby messing with a tied and true formula? Or should they have just canceled and built around something else?
CBS has been able to leverage the Two and a half Men brand to boost the value of shows it places around it. Now that their dirty laundry has aired so publicly, will it be so easy to cross-sell other products?
How long will the ex-key employee (Sheen) remain a problem?
This is a nightmare scenario for any business owner. What happens if your top employee - salesperson, engineer, executive - leaves and says nasty things about you to anyone who’ll listen?
These themes here should be familiar to any business: The loss or devaluation of a top product on the company’s finances, sales and marketing strategy. The fallout from a poorly handled employee separation.
Good theater is watching something we can relate to - happening to someone else. In the case of this production, the most interesting storyline is taking place off screen.