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SIMPSON JURY'S OPINION CARRIES LITTLE WEIGHT IN MARKETPLACE
Published October 4, 1995
As swift and sure as the jury's verdict of "not guilty," there is a clear consensus this morning that O.J. Simpson will not be able to step back into some of the roles he held before the trial -- particularly pitchman and sports commentator. However, there are other possibilities for the acquitted star -- including pay-per-view and book deals. A sampling of opinion and reaction from today's coverage: NBC SPORTS: Simpson's last job in sports before his arrest was as a football commentator at NBC Sports. NBC Sports spokesperson Ed Markey told THE DAILY yesterday that the network did not think it was "appropriate" to make a comment on the verdict (THE DAILY). But NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol told ESPN he stands by his comment of 10 months ago recounting a visit to Simpson in jail. Ebersol: "I said if the time comes when you are free of these horrible circumstances we can sit down and cross the bridge of your future employment. And he looked me in the eye and said, 'I don't think I ever want to do any of that stuff again. I want to get my kids and I want to move a long way away and I just want to enjoy them'" (ESPN, 10/3). THE TRUTH HERTZ: As George Lazarus reports in Chicago, the "overwhelming consensus" among ad agency, p.r. and marketing execs is that Simpson has "almost zero marketability" as a pitchman (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/4). Sean Cassidy, Senior VP at Dan Klores & Associates: "The O.J. Simpson story is incredibly marketable. But I don't know how marketable he is as a product endorser. He has lots of news value, but he does not have the image that Madison Avenue wants pushing their products" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/4). Brandon Steiner, of Steiner Sports Marketing: "Corporate America is not going to be looking at him. He won't be a spokesman anymore, no company will use him as a spokesperson. But to show up for an event, to create a crowd, yes" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 10/3). NBC's Fred Francis: "Industry observers say the bulk of Simpson's commercial value has been left here at the Los Angeles County jail; most of his advertising endorsements, his movie contracts, and perhaps his sports broadcasting." AD AGE's Bradley Johnson: "Any marketer that ties into this controversial man will be guilty by association" (NBC, 10/3). Sports marketing consultant Marty Blackman, on his potential in sports: "He's through, and no one will dare associate with him. But he'll make a lot of money from TV, film and publishing" (Paul Tharp, N.Y. POST, 10/4). Ad exec Jerry Della Femina says, "He's poison." But Richard Kirshenbaum believes Simpson will find himself "in a very lucrative position" after the furor dies down. Kirshenbaum: "There are many untraditional companies who will be ready to jump on the bandwagon" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/4). PAY-PER-VIEW: Several media reports note rumors of a pay- per-view interview, with speculation on the amount Simpson could make ranging anywhere from $10M to $100M. The N.Y. TIMES reports that CNN was approached, but that Ted Turner rejected the idea "because of the feeling it was improper to pay for a new interview" (James Sterngold, N.Y. TIMES, 10/4). Mac Lipscomb, of Showtime Entertainment Television: "There have been feelers from individuals, but it's unclear who represents O.J. It's speculative. At the moment, we don't have any plans to do pay- per-view." But Time Warner's Seth Abraham said, "No one has contacted me, nor would I take the call" (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 10/4). SOMEONE WILL PAY: In L.A., Joseph Cerrell of Cerrell & Associates was more optimistic: "Trust me. O.J. will get offers ranging from the serious to the bizarre. He will get business offers, athletic offers, endorsement offers. ... He'll get all those offers, and Johnnie Cochran and he will get to pick and choose" (L.A. TIMES, 10/4). David Burns, of Burns Sports Celebrity Service: "He'll be making more than when all this started" (Baltimore SUN, 10/4). Burns, who estimates that Simpson was making only $500,000 in endorsements a year before his arrest, believes the "real money" for Simpson is in speaking engagements, with $50,000 per speech possible now (BOSTON HERALD, 10/4). MONEY magazine estimates Simpson's post-trial earning potential at $10M (AP/TORONTO STAR, 10/4). Entertainment attorney Pierce O'Donnell, in a "CBS Evening News" report: "We're talking 10 figures, something in the tens of millions. ... There's the pay-per-view, followed by the book deal, and then followed by the movie. But I think in the end, O.J. might find that his life is a raw deal" (CBS, 10/3).