O.J. Simpson Epitomized the Risks of a Brand Betting Everything on a Celebrity

Self-destructing celeb spokespeople aren't new, but Simpson was a harbinger

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In the flush of obituaries following the death of O.J. Simpson on Wednesday, media outlets have found themselves looking back on one man—and many careers.

There’s Simpson the Hall of Fame football star and the actor who popped up in films like The Naked Gun. There’s Simpson the sportscaster, franchisee, real estate investor and—memorably—the face of Hertz rental cars for a whole generation.

And, of course, there was the man accused in 1994 (and later acquitted) of killing ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman, and who later served prison time for a 2007 kidnapping and armed robbery in Las Vegas.

Just as Simpson’s multifarious past complicates how sports fans regard him, it’s likely to do the same to the marketing community.



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