OJ SIMPSON’S HERTZ COMMERCIAL
OJ was so successful as a pitchman and charismatic NFL commentator that he even parlayed them into acting, playing a good guy in almost every one of his film and TV roles. By the time he was accused of killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman in 1994, OJ’s brand was so deeply engrained into our culture, that he believed it would survive his 1995 “trial of the century”—especially once he was acquitted. Of course, he was wrong. His cockiness showed at every turn, and ultimately it helped to destroy him.
Agreeing to do a reality show? Bad idea. Writing a book linked to the crimes he claimed not to have committed (the ill-fated, If I Did It, yanked by the publisher after public outcry)? Incredibly stupid, and offensive, and tacky.
OJ may have been acquitted of murder by a jury, but public opinion (and a dogged effort to destroy him by Goldman’s father) made OJ a pariah. Once a proven master of positive branding, he showed a stunning lack of ability to redeem his brand, or to simply go live a quiet life, grateful that he wasn’t living it in prison. Now, of course, he is, having been found guilty in 2008 of armed robbery and kidnapping following a 2007 arrest in Las Vegas.
What does all this have to do with Casey Anthony and her so-called brand? Or with you and yours? As Anthony faces re-entry into society, it’s been reported that she’s also facing an onslaught of potential business deals from paid exclusive print and TV interviews to a high-yield book deal to posing in the nude. No doubt, there are offers for reality shows as well. She’s lost her family, her privacy, and her reputation (can you imagine applying for a legitimate job with her name? or even applying to schools?). And, let’s not forget, her only child is also gone. There is a school of thought that says, what else does she have to lose?
The answer is easy: Her life, which was just spared in court. Not her brand, but her actual life.
Whether you think Anthony’s guilty or innocent; deserving of a second chance or not; the fact is, that’s what she’s been given. Every day, in countless ways, many of us are given the same thing. Whether starting school, getting married, entering a recovery program, being released from prison, losing weight, graduating, getting a job, giving birth, or just waking up with a brand new sunrise, fresh starts are doled out every day.
What we do with those fresh starts (just as how we respond to adversity) is what defines us. Us as human beings, as flesh-and-blood individuals, each of whom has the potential to do enormous good, or harm, in the world, not as manufactured brands.
There are so many branding gurus peddling their wares these days and they’re seizing upon the Anthony case to tell her—and by extension you—how to rebuild, reboot, revolutionize one’s brand. It’s the latest form of snake oil, because we all already know the simple truth: If we take care with our lives—our decisions, our relationships, our words, work, and service to each other—our brands will take care of themselves.