To be perfectly honest, I wrote about half a post on GM’s decision to give Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a new Corvette after he was robbed of a perfect game by a bad call, before deciding not to run it. Why? Well, the story is classic Detroit: Galarraga’s victimhood is exactly the image GM would like to associate itself with (remember, everything was going fine before the credit markets collapsed), and The General owed the Tigers anyway because of owner Mike Ilitch’s decision to not charge GM for ad space on the stadium’s fountain when it was in bankruptcy (Ilitch added free Ford and Chrysler ads in the interest of fairness). In short, there was plenty of room for some trademark TTAC cynicism… and yet I couldn’t quite bring myself to twist the knife.
Part of the decision to back off was that 50-odd thousand dollars isn’t much money for a publicity stunt of this kind. Of course, the flip side of this argument is that it’s not as if Gallaraga couldn’t have afforded a Corvette on his nearly half-million dollar annual salary (especially in the land of five-figure home prices). Perhaps the biggest question to be asked about the stunt though, was how badly does GM need to shore up support from residents of the Motor City? But even when Rep Darryl Issa (R-CA) complained to the NY Times, I couldn’t quite bring myself to join in the fun. Even if his protest indicated that this stunt might have cost GM more than just the Corvette’s MSRP. After all, this was probably a snap decision made in the heat of sports-fan enthusiasm.
Or was it? Automotive News [sub] is reporting that
Joyce Julius & Associates Inc., which specializes in measuring sponsorship scope across all forms of media, said the give-away… was worth $8.9 million in media exposure value for the automaker.
Of course, JJA Inc. insists that GM didn’t pay for the study, and that it regularly looks into these things just for the heck of it. But now that GM’s stunt is being justified as good business practice by another hometown company in a hometown publication, I can’t help but wonder if it was really worth the price of a new ‘vette… or more to the point, the price of the PR backlash. After all, this event marks a sea change in GM’s approach to giving “taxpayer-funded” cars away to wealthy athletes. Does GM need more support from the home team? Did this make a difference outside of Detroit? If so, was it positive or negative? Is giving cars to athletes ever a good idea?
Please be honest with your interpretations of this issue, but please make sure to keep your comments constructive as well. Obvious flaming will, as always, be moderated.