DETROIT -- The decision by General Motors Co. to give a $53,000 Corvette convertible to Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga the day after his perfect game was botched by an umpire was worth $8.9 million in media exposure value for the automaker, a new study shows.
The report comes after GM faced a lawmaker's criticism for the highly publicized gift. Joyce Julius & Associates Inc., which specializes in measuring sponsorship scope across all forms of media, said the give-away was referenced in 714 television programs between Thursday and Sunday, which was worth nearly $1 million in exposure.
The give-away also appeared in 151,000 publications and Web entries in that time, worth another $7.9 million, Joyce Julius said.
GM's move had been challenged in a June 4 New York Times story.
“Until GM has repaid the taxpayers in full for the money they have borrowed, every action that GM takes should advance them in that direction,” Kurt Bardella, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., told the Times.
Issa and others also criticized GM in May because of a television commercial claiming GM had paid back its U.S. bailout loans, when the funds had come from a government escrow account.
The U.S. government still owns 61 percent of the automaker. GM is planning a public stock offering to help repay the government's bailing funding.
GM, which returned as the Comerica Park fountain sponsor after a one-year hiatus because of bankruptcy-fueled marketing cutbacks, did not commission the report.
“We were not contracted to do the study. We often look at national level happenings in sponsorship and provide that information to all of our clients and the media,” said Eric Wright, Joyce Julius' vice president of research and product development, in an e-mail to Crain's Detroit Business, an affiliate of Automotive News.
Galarraga had pitched a perfect game at Comerica Park against the Cleveland Indians on June 2, but the first-base umpire erroneously ruled Jason Donald safe on an infield hit on what would have been the final out.
The umpire later admitted he blew the call and apologized.