Sheen a risky marketing machine

An SEO marketing expert says start-ups should be wary of aligning their businesses with celebrities, in light of the news that companies are starting to cash in on the hype surrounding controversial actor Charlie Sheen.


Sheen, who holds a world record for gaining one million Twitter followers in just over a day, has dominated recent media reports for his outlandish behaviour, namely his drug-fuelled violence and penchant for porn stars.


In a bid to capitalise on the media hype surrounding Sheen, companies have already released songs, T-shirts, coffee mugs, ring tones and even a radio station dedicated to the star.


But Chris Thomas, chief executive of SEO and SEM company Reseo, says start-ups should think twice before tying their brand to a celebrity, particularly one as notorious as Sheen.


“Start-ups have to look at it on a case-by-case basis. If it’s an edgier brand, the business might not care too much [about such an association] but if you’re a reputable company, I wouldn’t be engaging in this kind of marketing,” Thomas says.


Thomas says for businesses that do decide to leverage a celebrity’s pulling power, they should look at Google Trends to determine how much traffic activity a particularly celebrity is generating.


“You could also optimise search images on your website – a lot of people search for images when they’re interested in a celebrity,” he says.


“If you can get an image or a picture and trick Google into thinking it’s relevant, do it. But it’s a lot of mucking around, and any marketing associated with celebrities is high risk with a question mark around the return.”


Thomas says businesses also need to act fast if they plan on reaping the rewards of their marketing efforts, particularly as interest in certain celebrities can change on a daily basis.


“You’d want to hope that it breaks into a huge story, but there’s still a question mark around the longevity of the strategy… You may also need to be prepared for legal problems,” he says.


“At the end of the day, focus instead on delivering good products and services, and market them well through tried and tested methods.”


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