Published by CommPro
Thomas J. Madden, Chairman and CEO, Transmedia Group
As a crisis management expert, I sometimes wonder what would be the ultimate challenge, the biggest reputational fire to extinguish. The absolute worst case for prescribing a turn-around strategy, a route to redemption.
These days I can’t help thinking what I would do if someone put a gun to my head and ordered me to represent Orenthal James Simpson, also known as “The Juice,” saying: fix OJ’s rep or I fire.”
As everyone on the planet now knows Simpson was granted parole by the Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners, paving the way for the NFL Hall of Famer to leave prison after a 9-year stint.
For “The Juice” it has been the quintessential fall from fame. Before the 70-year-old Simpson’s much-publicized trial over the murder of his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and actor Ron Goldman, The Juice was an American icon.
Now he’s an American Schmicon, universally despised, his reputation in tatters, his image and brand blown to smithereens. He would certainly make Trump’s ultimate “loser” list.
Imagine all he’s lost. The Juice had broadcasting gigs with CBS and ABC, acting roles on movies like the 1988 cult classic “The Naked Gun” and was an advertising spokesman for Chevrolet, Schick, Dingo boots, Foster Grant and RC Cola. Perhaps his most famous endorsement was Hertz Rent-a-Car. Today he couldn’t promote Rent-a-Hearse.
Okay, don’t pull the trigger. Here are some ideas, starting with earning some money that he could pay his creditors, including Goldman’s family.
Actually, while owing millions to his creditors, Simpson will probably be quite comfortable financially when he is released from jail, thanks to pensions that may pay out more than $25,000 per month — funds that aren’t subject to seizure by creditors.
I would strongly advise OJ to donate at least half of this money to nonprofits like AVDA, aiding victims of domestic abuse.
Next I would offer OJ as the ultimate Opposition Research tool for hire, insisting he give 100% of OR revenues to victims’ families.
Imagine finding OJ at your political rally rooting for you. It would be any candidate’s kiss of death, a political campaign’s nightmare. He’d be a walking time bomb until everyone realized he was doing it for good purpose.
Next I would insist on OJ recanting statements like “I’ve basically spent a conflict-free life.” Really?
And for at least a month after his release, I’d have him dress like a prisoner when he attends galas or plays golf so he’ll always be remembered as having been incarcerated.
Lastly, I’d teach him to cry. He needs to shed tears. Real, not fake tears. Show deep, believable remorse.
Will he ever be forgiven? I doubt it, not on this earth. Only God can forgive him now provided he truly repents.
Will he ever be admired again? No, not likely.
All that OJ can sqeeze out now would be maybe becoming less despised.
For me he’ll remain the ultimate crisis management client, but there’d have to be a gun to head before I’d take his case.