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Comeback: Charlie Sheen safe for advertisers again

Research shows Americans are still amused by Sheen, with little risk featuring him in ads.

Charlie Sheen’s appearance in a DirecTV ad amuses more viewers than it annoys, according to an independent, non-commissioned Media Impact study from research technology firm Vision Critical.

The Sheen ad is part of a recent DirecTV ad campaign from Grey Advertising that satirically demonstrates that it is better to have DirectTV than cable. While watching the ad, survey respondents were asked to click on different emotional reaction buttons to reveal how they felt about the ad on a moment-by-moment basis.

While Sheen dominated the tabloids in 2011, the Media Impact study reveals that his evolved public image makes him well suited for advertising appearances.

The Vision Critical study reveals that Sheen’s appearance in the DirectTV spot is not off-putting. Instead, viewers are amused by Sheen’s appearance in a Turkish bathhouse. Amusement is maintained as Sheen reenacts scenes from Platoon using chairs and indoor plants. The initial peak of the “amused” reaction is the strongest emotional peak among 12 different ads tested using the Media Impact tool.

While Sheen’s presence triggers some clicking on the “annoyed” reaction button, negative reactions are low among consumers under 65 years of age.


Share of all Reaction Button Clicks


Age 18-34

Age 35-64

Age 65+









 “Viewers’ emotional reactions show that Charlie Sheen is still entertaining, and surprisingly low risk. Both the DirecTV and Fiat ads featuring Sheen play off his recent notoriety. That said, early reviews of his new show have found it ‘safe’ and ‘conventional’ so it remains to be seen how long his notoriety can be leveraged for entertainment value” cautions Jeff Vidler, Senior Vice President, Media Research, Vision Critical. To watch a video about Media Impact, click here.
About Media Impact:

The Vision Critical® Media Impact platform is an online media screening solution that captures responses to audio or video content on a second-by-second basis. Respondents click on reaction buttons as they consume content to express their feelings on a moment-by-moment basis. The tool can be used to test a wide range of content including advertisements, TV shows, promos, radio bits and music montages. Compared to traditional testing methods such as dial testing or post-viewing interviews, Vision Critical Media Impact offers greater flexibility and more precise data.

Methodology: Vision Critical’s Integrated Consumer, Retail and Shopper Insights practice tested 12 different television ads from a range of categories including, television service, OTC, alcohol and quick service restaurants as part of an ongoing series exploring the effectiveness of various advertising methods and executions. Each ad was seen by over 500 panelists on Springboard America, Vision Critical’s proprietary panel recruited using the highest industry standards. The study was in field between May 4 and 15, 2012.