Ashton Kutcher is still not sweating the details.

Last month the newly minted “Two and a Half Men” star was called a massive media whore by Gawker (the massive media pimp) for conflicts of interest regarding a special online issue of Details that he edited, in which he promoted certain stocks without disclosing his investment in them.

Now comes this, via MediaPost:

So this week on “Two and a Half Men,” when Ashton Kutcher’s new Internet billionaire character, Walden Schmidt opened his laptop, lo and behold we saw some stickers of real-life companiesincluding FourSquare, Groupon, Chegg and Flipboard.

“Men” executive producer Chuck Lorre thought this was OK — even though CBS executives supposedly knew nothing about it. For a producer’s mindset it makes sense: Realistic computer brands add some credibility. Right?

But there are complications — seems that Kutcher has a financial interest (passive?) in those companies. No money was transferred (as far as we know) specifically for this product placement effort.

Nonetheless, CBS is still riled up about it, although “riled up” isn’t what it used to be.

Seems that CBS will have none of it — even if no money was exchanged specifically. It doesn’t want other producers getting the wrong idea. At least it wants knowledge ahead of time.

So, don’t do that. Or if you’re as big as Ashton Kutcher (so far), don’t do that without giving us advance notice.

Tough disclosure policy, eh? As for the viewers, CBS apparently believes they should fend for themselves.


John Carroll, who also writes at Campaign Outsider and It's Good to Live in a Two-Daily Town, is a media analyst and mass communication professor at Boston University.
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