Ask The Best And Brightest: Was GM's Corvette Giveaway Worth It?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
ask the best and brightest was gm s corvette giveaway worth it

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.

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2 of 35 comments
  • Rod Panhard Rod Panhard on Jun 10, 2010

    On behalf of Americans who are ambivalent about baseball and professional sports, it really didn't matter to us. I'd never heard of the guy. Seriously. And once I did and saw how the situation played out, think the Corvette comes across as something of a booby prize. So I'd like to publicly apologize to Mr. Galarraga for thinking he was an updated version of a 1980s videogame when I first read his name in a headline.

  • TaurusGT500 TaurusGT500 on Jun 10, 2010

    Q: badly does GM need to shore up support from residents of the Motor City? A: They don't, but this story grew and became a national story for a short time. 50K (or less as some posters have astutely noted) is absurdly cheap for that kind of pub. More money than that used to get spent on shrimp cocktail at a full-on media blitz.

  • Kenneth Ironic story here...My father's first Hyundai/Kia car was an 86 Hyundai Excel, we drove it from Oklahoma to California and back the first year he had owned it; it was so under powered that every hill on the interstate (and every other road) was done in second gear, he put 300,000 miles on it before he sold it. It wasn't fast, it wasn't fancy but it got the job done and never left him on the side of the road.He owns a 2020 Kia Soul now...My first Hyundai which I recently bought is a 2014 Hyundai Equus Signature which I picked up in Phoenix and drove back to Oklahoma, it is everything that the Excel isn't and so much more.
  • Analoggrotto Another step in towards total adoption of Tesla vehicles for the ENTIRE american public by 2025. Anyone who refuses to admit that TESLA is the best will be deported from our galaxy, our future and our universe.
  • Dukeisduke This makes me think of the gimmicky ads for some retail electricity providers here in Texas, specifically TXU Electric and Reliant - "free nights", "free weekends", etc.
  • BEPLA Just say no to driving around in circles for hours turning left the entire way and calling it a "sport"
  • BEPLA I can make a guess why this car is in the junkyard:A severe lack of maintenance, causing catastrophic system failure - most likely the engine locked up from a lack of oil changes.