Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Running Gag

If you question the power of advertising, why do I still feel compelled to yell “Go, O.J., Go!” whenever I see someone running frantically to catch a bus, cab, plane, etc.?

O.J. Simpson (yes, THAT O.J. Simpson) starred in an ad for the car rental company Hertz in the 1970s. In the ad, Simpson is running recklessly through an airport jumping every obstacle as he tries to catch a departing airplane. Encouraging onlookers yell, “Go, O.J., Go!

For years since, whenever I saw someone running chaotically in a public setting, I felt like yelling, “Go, O.J., Go!” More times than not, I actually did yell it. Surprisingly, no one ever bloodied my nose. They were in too much of a hurry, I guess.

Anyway, just last week, probably three decades after that commercial last aired, I see a young guy running like a madman down Louisville’s Main Street. My first thought? “Go, O.J., Go!” This time, I contained myself. Being born long after the commercial, the guy couldn’t have possibly appreciated my cutting-edge humor.

Nevertheless, I couldn’t block the thought. I’m not making any promises for the next time someone blazes past me, either.

With O.J.s’ reprehensible behavior, Hertz has long since ended its relationship with him. Unfortunately, as far as the commercial goes, I’m having a harder time letting go.

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