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The O.J. Simpson trial has become the Super Bowl of TV product plugs. Major brands, including Diet Coke, Ford, IBM, McDonald's and Sony, are reaping millions in free TV exposure from courtroom plugs.

Sony generated at least $20 million of exposure during the past week alone, according to analysis by Medialink Research, New York.

"While there's no way to estimate how many actual minutes on how many local and network broadcasts these brand names were exposed, 1 minute on a network is worth $322,000 and 1 minute on a major market affiliate is worth $7,000," said Medialink Director Mark Weiner. "Hypothetically, if the Sony TV monitors were in full view for an hour, simple math suggests the value could be as much as $19,920,000 for that network time alone. And Sony's monitor was in view for much more than an hour."

Indeed, for much of the week, an enhanced version of Sony's logo threatened to upstage O.J.

Six computer monitors, on loan from Sony Electronics Corp. to Judge Lance Ito's courtroom for six months, sported doctored versions of the logo designed to spotlight the Sony name.

A Sony spokesman blamed an "overzealous" employee for the modification and promised the company would restore the logo to its original state in time for this week's trial coverage.

But Sony was not the only guilty party. The ubiquitous IBM ThinkPad Judge Ito keeps at his side also featured a more prominent logo-plus it was inverted so viewers would see it right-side-up.

An IBM Corp. spokeswoman acknowledged the Thinkpad, loaned to the court as part of an agreement between IBM and the state of California, was altered. But the company said the changes were made by the state, not IBM.

The Sony logo was sighted or mentioned 69 times during Simpson coverage, more than any other brand tracked for the past 60 days, according to Radio TV Reports, a unit of Competitive Media Reporting, New York, that tracks brand references in TV news coverage.

Product mentions range from verbal references, like O.J. defense attorney Johnnie Cochran's description of McDonald's in opening arguments, to the Diet Coke can sitting on Judge Ito's bench. TV exposure includes network, cable and local TV stations in the top 20 markets.

According to Radio TV Reports, McDonald's Corp. received the second most mentions-26-followed by five for IBM and three for Diet Coke.

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