When artist and ’60s icon Andy Warhol famously said that someday, everyone would be famous for fifteen minutes, I’m sure he thought that he was exaggerating for effect. The media, primarily television, and pop music were manufacturing celebrities faster than it was previously imagined possible.
Since then, “star” has been replaced by “popstar” which has been replaced by “reality TV star” which has been replaced by “famous for nothing”. How do we ever keep up? But for you and me, we have the luxury of paying attention or not. We can choose to be interested in Paris Hilton or Snooki or we can choose to not give them a second thought. Lucky us.
But what if you’re a person in the media who not only must care but is a cog in the machine of celebrity? Fifteen minutes would be a luxury.
Such was the case for Piers Morgan, who recently took over for Larry King on CNN and has tried to give the show a more contemporary feel. Piers has had Oprah Winfrey, Sirius Radio personality Howard Stern, Condoleezza Rice and Donald Trump on in the last few weeks. Right now, the US media is abuzz about train wreck du jour Charlie Sheen. Sheen, the star of the CBS comedy “Two and a Half Men” is on what he sees as a media tour to repair his reputation. If you don’t know his story, you can certainly read about it all over the internet but to cut to the chase, he seems to be on a drug, alcohol and porn star fueled binge of Keith Richardian proportions.
Sheen’s PR man quit due to the actor’s unpredictable behavior so, for the time being, the actor is working without a net or adult supervision. He called Morgan and offered to come on Piers Morgan Tonight on extremely short notice. Morgan accepted but was unsure whether Sheen would actually show up for the live show until he actually did roll up four minutes before air time.
So, Morgan, who is under intense ratings pressure right now, has the interview of the moment and no time to promote it. He would certainly get the usual CNN diehards but that tiny slice of the ratings pie would be meaningless. Morgan had only minutes to crow that the interview would actually take place. He started putting out Twitter posts to his 370,000 followers who retweeted it to countless others. This also got the word out to media folks who tweeted, blogged and broadcast the details in very short order.
Sheen’s appearance on Piers Morgan Tonight scored the show its second highest rated night ever. The highest rated show was the show’s opening night which was very heavily promoted and featured Oprah Winfrey. Think of it. Piers was taking over for an American TV legend. CNN was aflame with promotion for weeks. Oprah was promoting the appearance on her own wildly popular syndicated show. Yet, Oprah’s appearance barely got more viewers than were driven by a timely use of social media.
Don’t think that this has gone unnoticed by marketing folks in every segment of every market imaginable. And don’t think it was lost on Sheen. Morgan suggested that Sheen get a Twitter account of his own which the actor did today. So far, he has 157,000 followers and has not tweeted once.