The US Postal Service’s PR twitter account has put the USPS’s spin on revelations about the cost of the service’s sponsorship of Lance Armstrong’s cycling team. In a tweet posted this morning, @uspsmedia says that an Associated Press report “shows USPS sponsorship of Lance Armstrong cycling team paid huge dividends for Postal”. You might get the impression from the tweet that it refers to an investigative report by an AP reporter. It doesn’t. Follow the link and you’ll discover that the “AP report” simply repeats the findings of a study commissioned by the USPS itself:
Studies commissioned by the United States Postal Service estimated the agency received at least three times the value of the $32 million spent sponsoring Lance Armstrong’s cycling teams during their heyday.
The AP story doesn’t offer any details as to how the Postal Service’s consultants arrived at these estimates, but it does offer some rather puzzling examples of the sort of value the USPS received:
The studies estimated the value of the sponsorship increased yearly, beginning with USPS receiving roughly $18.5 million in value in 2001 and peaking at $34.6 million in 2004. The 2004 report noted that exposure, and value, increased in part because of the creation of Armstrong’s LiveStrong bracelets and his then-relationship with singer Sheryl Crow.
Exactly how Lance’s “then-relationship with singer Sheryl Crow” resulted in millions of dollars of “value” for the USPS is not explained. When the agency’s own Inspector General investigated the value of sponsorships in 2003, it was unable to come up with evidence to validate the postal service’s claims- and back then the USPS was only claiming $18 million in added revenue:
Based on interviews with sales representatives and national account managers, combined with financial analyses, we verified only $698,000 of the $18 million claimed by the Postal Service over a 4-year period as revenue generated as a result of the Pro-Cycling team sponsorship.