Why Charlie Sheen Keeps Winning and Lindsay Lohan Keeps Losing
By Jo Piazza Posted Mar 18th 2011 01:00PM
At first glance the similarities between Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen seem to trump their differences. Both were wildly successful in their own rights -- she in teen flicks, he in sitcoms. Both have addiction and relationship dramas, both have daddy issues and both screw up. A lot.
But while Sheen seems to be encased in kryptonic armor protecting him and his bank account from all of his misdeeds, Lohan can't even keep a movie gig, and no one wants to pay her to do much of anything, even sell tights.
What gives? Is it a male/female thing? The age difference? I don't think so. Sheen has simply made better personal branding choices. He gives America the product they want.
Bret Easton Ellis wrote in Newsweek this week that Sheen simply gets modern celebrity. A modern celebrity is one that doesn't give a crap about what the public thinks about them. They are going to do it their way, whether you like it or not. The irony is that you do like it and you will end up paying good money for more of it. Using that construction, Lohan's problem is that she cares much too much. She desperately wants everyone to like her. She proves that she becomes offended when anyone, say the cast of 'Glee,' pokes fun at her expense.
How would Sheen respond in such a situation? We imagine if New Directions started in on the actor he would be the first one to come on the show to sing his latest anthem, 'Duh, Winning, in A Minor,' and he would demand $1 million to do it. Ryan Murphy wouldn't know why he was doing it, but he'd be signing that check.
Sheen has created a brand out of screwing up. He embraces what one of my favorite business coaches, Suzanne Evans, says: "Make your mess your message," when it comes to developing your personal brand. Sheen has become the king of this idiom. In fact his messy path has become his hero's journey.
Lohan hasn't been able to commit to a message, whether messy or otherwise in the past five years. She was almost in a lesbian relationship with DJ Sam Ronson, but never fully committed to the homosexual lifestyle. She posed nude for New York magazine, but has never committed to being a sex kitten. Her multiple rehabs haven't worked, yet she has never fully embraced her bad girl persona either. She never seemed to enjoy her benders very much. Not like Sheen.
Lohan is a commodity without a brand message and that is her problem. It's also why the American public doesn't know what to make of her. We know what Charlie Sheen is. He's crazy like a fox, and he has been bringing that crazy to everything he has done in the past three weeks. Each new Sheen's Korner is crazier than the last. His live show promises to be one of the craziest nights of one-man performance since Gallagher stopped smashing watermelons.
Because Lohan hasn't embraced any single brand message, she has become unlikable. Seriously unlikeable. In 2004, Lohan had a brand awareness of only 20 percent. Her positive Q score (a score advertisers and brands use to determine how well-liked a celebrity asset is) was a 19, and her negative was a 20. By last year 84 percent of those polled were familiar with Lohan. Her positive rating reached a low of 9, and her negative rating hovered at 52. More than five times more people despised Lohan than liked her.
Meanwhile, Charlie Sheen has never been more adored. They're both messy, but Charlie's decision to embrace his mess will prove to be the best business decision he has ever made. We never thought we'd say it, but Lindsay could learn something from the warlock.
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