Charlie Sheen. Even when he loses, he winds up winning. America's favorite cocaine- and tiger-blood-soaked star is the subject of much griping by Walter Delph, the new CEO of social-media marketing firm Ad.ly, in a frequently riotous Fast Company interview. "You won't hear me talk about Charlie Sheen—I won't even say the words 'Charlie Sheen.' We are not working with Charlie Sheen [anymore]," says Delph, triple-name-checking the actor just to make sure search engines take note. Ad.ly specializes in hooking up brands with celebrities; embracing Sheen last year, at the height of his manic meltdown, helped put the firm on the map. Even so, Delph, who joined Ad.ly in March, claims the deal "was detrimental to our business." Gosh, how so? "It ruined our credibility," he says. "And it made this entire space—not just Ad.ly, but influence marketing in general—weaker. It dumbed it down." The vacuous nature of an industry that pays Kim Kardashian $10,000 per tweet takes such remarks way beyond irony. Later, Delph notes: "If we're working with Nikon, for example, I'd prefer to have 10 photojournalists [as endorsers] over one Kardashian." Photogs risking their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan can take heart: They're valued above reality-TV stars who couldn't work a camera if their lacquered nails were glued to the controls. I'm not sure how Delph meant his remarks to be taken, but these days frankness and irony are relative terms. They're ultimately the same thing: tools to bolster the bottom line.
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