Less than eight minutes into the second episode of Two and a Half Men, Ashton Kutcher — as the internet billionaire Walden Schmidt — is seen lounging on the couch with his laptop open, annoying the crap out of his ex on the phone. But it’s not the conversation that is significant (though his yuk about using baby shampoo is pretty funny). It’s his laptop: Stuck to the top of his computer are a series of bright-colored decals touting specific companies, including ones favored by the actor himself.
Turns out the stickers represent a bunch of companies that Kutcher has a financial stake in — including Foursquare, Hipmunk, Flipboard and GroupMe, as reported by Variety. Another decal touts the company Chegg, which Kutcher isn’t personally invested in but receives social-media help from the actor’s production company, Katalyst. Look who’s winning now!
For what’s it worth, the folks at CBS don’t seem to be wringing their hands over how crafty Kutcher is — mostly because the decals are organic to his laid-back character. (The network wasn’t compensated for them, and Men creator Chuck Lorre was totally down with their usage). But CBS did disclose the Foursquare sticker at the end of the episode, as required by the FCC.
“This was not part of any advertising transaction with CBS,” a network spokesman told Variety. “Our policy is to disclose such financial interests in a credit at the end of the broadcast.”
Chances are most viewers over 40 didn’t give a second thought to all the decals; they were too busy focusing on Lorre’s always dependable jokes. But then Kutcher probably doesn’t want to reach those so-called fogeys anyway; its the internet-savvy 20-somethings that he hopes are giving Men a try for a first time in their multi-cam-hatin’ lives. And that’s called seeing the forest through the trees, people: CBS would probably gladly overlook a little free advertising for small companies if it means getting more of those elusive young male viewers at 9 p.m.
Did you even notice the decals?