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

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

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.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • 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.

  • FreedMike Not much to look at, but these were sweet to drive.
  • EBFlex Ford finally making a good decision although they should shut down their EV operations and investment all together. Why lose that money too?
  • Mike Lol. This is the king of suvs. And its made by GM.Why is everyone trashing it?Top of its its class for a quarter century.
  • Frank Drove past there last week, plant has a huge poster of a bronco on the outside. I was thinking "Is that where they build the new broncos?" I know they use to make the Edge and that other mundane SUV there but I believe both have been canned.
  • CanadaCraig Toyota saw this coming. So good for them for being courageous enough to say, "Wait a minute. Let's not rush into anything."