VERDICT IN O.J. AD FUTURE: OVER

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O.J. Simpson may be innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, but in the marketing and media worlds, the football hero turned accused murderer has been tried and convicted.

Sports marketing experts are reluctant to go on the record, but they're virtually unanimous that Mr. Simpson's endorsement career is over even if proven innocent.

A just-completed survey of 712 journalists conducted by New York-based Jericho Promotions bears out that speculation. More than 70% of those who responded said that Hertz Corp. shouldn't reinstate its endorsement deal with Mr. Simpson even if he's acquitted of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.

Elsewhere in the ongoing Simpson drama:

Alka-Seltzer, Lysol and Midol were among the brands advertised during the Big 3 broadcast networks' coverage of pre-trial hearings last week. They are benefiting from daytime TV viewership that's up 30%. Still, the Big 3 are losing a bundle with such infrequent commercial breaks.

"O.J. Simpson: Juice on the Loose," a quickie video biography of Mr. Simpson from Vidmark Entertainment, is due in stores July 27; a portion of sales will go to charity. And Hollywood sources say a producer has an actor lined up to play Mr. Simpson for a TV movie and is shopping for a network.

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