By on February 4, 2009

For the eighth year in a row, the MVP of the Super Bowl has received a free Cadillac of their choice. This year, Pittsburgh Wideout Santonio Holmes picked out Caddy’s priciest SUV, an $85k Escalade Hybrid Platinum. But instead of presenting the ‘llac at an on-field postgame ceremony, the terms of Cadillac’s sponsorship were fulfilled behind closed doors. Why? “Given the current business environment, it was much more appropriate we not do that,” Caddy spokeswoman Joanne Krell tells the New York Daily News. “We made the decision not to actively participate in the Super Bowl. We congratulate the MVP, it is a great achievement. We are very sensitive to the federal assistance loan we have received and we want to carry on our fiduciary responsibility. The Super Bowl was not a place for us to be this year. That is not to say it’s not a great platform.” But GM still gave a man who makes over $2m per year an $85k vehicle after having received $7.4b in government bailouts. From a PR perspective that’s not great, and from Deadspin on down, people are taking notice. And based on the fact that Caddy defends the decision on the basis of the bailout being a loan that will be repaid, it’s obvious that they realize how bad this looks.

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32 Comments on “Super Bowl MVP Receives $85k Taxpayer-Funded Caddy...”


  • avatar
    toxicroach

    If they aren’t going to tell anyone about it… why do it? The whole point is publicity!

  • avatar
    hitman1970

    It is a good thing that GM did not give away this bit of high level publicity. A smart move. It is also a way to prevent another maker from stepping in while they are down.

    Of course people are calling them out for bowing out of the Superbowl ads as giving up.

    If they had fielded a Superbowl ad, they would have been slammed to lavishly throwing away dollars instead of taking a more cost effective advertising approach.

    Either way GM is wrong, right? Just clearing things up here.

  • avatar
    montgomery burns

    toxicroach :

    Exactly what I was thinking. What is the point? Now if they had given him a Volt that would have been great PR…

    Oh wait, nevermind.

  • avatar
    thalter

    isn’t the XLR-V Cadillac’s priciest whip?

  • avatar
    hitman1970

    I thought Caddy’s priciest whip would have been a loaded XLR-V.

  • avatar
    tced2

    We don’t know what the contract reads for this promotion. This arrangement was not made in the last 6 months. There may be penalties for breaking the arrangement. It might be cheaper to just provide the vehicle than to break a contract. GM does not “pay” the sticker price for the vehicle so the actual cost may be less. The XLR that I have seen is about $100k.

  • avatar
    Casual Observer

    It’s better out on the street for free than sitting on a cargo ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

  • avatar
    Jeff Puthuff

    @thalter, @hitman1970

    Text amended.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    That the Detroit automakers did not run Super Bowl ads was simply political posturing.

    That both Audi and Hyundai ran comparison Super Bowl ads, and that no Detroit brands, or, in Hyundai’s case, English screaming, appeared shows where the Detroit automakers really stand.

  • avatar
    shiney2

    Isn’t the current real world transaction price for an Escalade, even the hybrid, more like 45K?

    They probably just gave him one they had to take back from a closing dealer anyhow…

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    I’m no GM apologist, but it is hard to dump on Cadillac for this. I presume that GM had previously made a multi-year commitment as a sponsor, so it tried to fulfil its obligation without creating a lot of bad publicity for itself. A no-win situation for GM.

    CasualObserver: Love your point. One less car waiting for a buyer. What if GM decided to give a car to everyone who WATCHED the superbowl. Put me down for a Suburban, please.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    Wow. I can’t believe he didn’t take the 2009 CTS-V.

  • avatar

    Idiot should have taken the CTS-V. Great looking vehicle.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    Aren’t Escalades the choice of drug dealers everywhere? According to wikipedia Santonio Holmes is an admitted drug dealer as a kid and a user as of 2008. Perhaps the “economy” was GM’s out so as not to be associated in a big public way with an admitted drug dealer.

  • avatar

    There are far worse offenses. At least getting a Cadillac for winning Super Bowl MVP gives the brand some luster. I don’t really have a problem with this in terms of bang for the buck publicity. The Escalade certainly costs GM much less than a Super Bowl ad.

    The whole point of this endeavor should be that the companies borrowing money from the government should pay it back as quickly as possible and disentangle government and business. GM has to advertise one way or another. Should they not supply Camaros and Corvettes to be used as pace cars at Daytona and Indy?

    There are far worse offenses, btw. Wolfgang Puck gets comped an Escalade. I assume other celebrities are comped by manufacturers as well. Comping A list celebrities who should be buying your most expensive products is not good business. Giving away a Cadillac at the Super Bowl makes sense. Hell, giving a radio talk show host a car as part of an advertising package makes sense. Freebieing a movie star makes no sense.

  • avatar
    snafu

    so what are the metrics on returns for something like this? What is the real value here. What equity is gained?

  • avatar
    tced2

    Advertising.
    GM gives away a car that costs them $50k and sells 500 cars because of the publicity. If each car has a profit of $1k each then they have made $450k.
    Now don’t give me hard time about the $1k profit on each car. I’m just giving an example of how it is assumed to work. The assumption is that the profit on the cars sold will be greater than the cost of the car given away.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Casual Observer….

    Escalades are imported now? Those bastards!

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    Domestic Hearse:

    It doesn’t matter that they’re built in Mexico, what matters is that the losses go to US shareholders.

  • avatar

    Well, it was either give it to Holmes or let it rot on a soon-to-be-dead dealer’s lot. May as well put it into service – with enough “Hybrid” stickers slathered all over it, it makes a nice rolling billboard aimed at those gullible enough to buy it’s “green credentials.” Which is, after all, the median of the driving public.

    I’d be a lot more pissed if they squandered $3M on a Super Bowl spot – this is pennies on that dollar.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    I suppose the game was played in an underutilised and rent subsidized public facility built under duress in order to even have an NFL team?

    I am always amazed at how many of my so called capitalist peers are all hyped up about the NFL and their teat sucking ways.

  • avatar
    creamy

    There are far worse offenses. and there are far more minor ones, too.

    At least getting a Cadillac for winning Super Bowl MVP gives the brand some luster. must muster luster for Custer of a brand.

    I don’t really have a problem with this in terms of bang for the buck publicity. but they, uh, didn’t publicize it. how exactly does that help? just flushing more of our money down the drain that way.

    The Escalade certainly costs GM much less than a Super Bowl ad. and hey, they didn’t have to use incentives to get rid of this vehicle, eh?

    The whole point of this endeavor should be that the companies borrowing money from the government should pay it back as quickly as possible and disentangle government and business. the whole point of this endeavor was to give away a free vehicle to a super bowl athlete for publicity.

    GM has to advertise one way or another. they should probably try the other.

    Should they not supply Camaros and Corvettes to be used as pace cars at Daytona and Indy? absolutely. but let people know about it.

    There are far worse offenses, btw. sure: genocide, murder, rape, many of the car salespeople i’ve dealt with…

    Wolfgang Puck gets comped an Escalade. …naming your kid wolfgang…

    I assume other celebrities are comped by manufacturers as well. Comping A list celebrities who should be buying your most expensive products is not good business. Giving away a Cadillac at the Super Bowl makes sense. Hell, giving a radio talk show host a car as part of an advertising package makes sense. Freebieing a movie star makes no sense. ya lost me, but that’s okay. i have to go see what tom cruise is driving now because i sure would like to be just like him when i grow up.

  • avatar
    Gary Numan

    This is gruesome fun to watch unfold. The millisecond GM chose to go groveling for taxpayer cash and then when they took it is the millisecond they lost all control of their publicly traded enterprize. Game over as now the Gov’t has newfound control and it will not go away until the money is given back.

    Ford was extremely wise to not take this gift with major strings. The key problem is that GM and Chrysler are now “Zombie” companies that are now under control by politicians with zero business acumen or any idea how to create wealth. These Zombie companies will interfere with the healthy companies and cause great harm to those who did not take the gov’t dole.

    Thus, in America, the perverse reward structure is to be rewarded for failure, not for success. Brilliant!

  • avatar
    Mike_H

    All this over one Caddy. Wait until later this month when the pecksniffs in Congress want to know why the Big 2.5 are spending money fer them NASCARS to run at Daytoner.

    Carbon footprint + Bailout footprint = publicity disaster.

  • avatar
    improvement_needed

    here’s another sensationalistic headline:

    “regular folk, casually looking for a korean sourced car get free (tax payer subsidized) coffee while talking to sales man at chevy dealer”

  • avatar
    like.a.kite

    I wonder why the options are in that order.

  • avatar
    CAHIBOstep

    The most important quote from the article in New York’s Picture Newspaper is: “We will live up to the contract we negotiated.”

    I hoped to find some information about the terms of the contract, but of course there is none anywhere. So it’s pretty hard to be objective about this.

    One could just as easily say that GM is following the law by living up to the contract AND using good judgement with regard to advertising at the same time. That sounds like good PR to me.

    This story looks bad if you want it to look bad, but otherwise there is some important information missing.

  • avatar
    holydonut

    That’s odd, during the pre-game show they mentioned the MVP was going to get a free Caddy and they cut to a shot of the CTS-V. Then Deion Sanders went on some rant about how defensive players get the shaft in MVP votes since it’s usually QBs and other offensive players that get MVPs.

  • avatar
    Brett Woods

    Then why give him that car as a `choi`e?

  • avatar
    Sabastian

    What? You mean the football player picked the Escalade? What a free-thinker.

  • avatar
    marcj

    Maybe Santonio can auction the ‘sclade on eBay as “sports memorabilia”, then donate the money back to Cadillac? (Surely they’re considered a charity by now, so he’d even get a nice tax receipt…)

  • avatar
    Revver

    <>

    Why should their PR division run any different than the rest of the operation?

    OK, cheap shot, but c’mon when is this company’s A game gonna show up?


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