Post Office paid almost $32 million for Lance Armstrong sponsorship

posted at 11:30 am on January 15, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

When wondering how the US Postal Service could find itself in a $7 billion hole, perhaps decisions like this might explain it.  Court documents in a fraud probe involving doping allegations in Lance Armstrong’s cycling team show that the USPS paid almost $32 million for a four-year sponsorship from 2001-2004:

The U.S Postal Service spent $31.9 million to underwrite Lance Armstrong’s pro cycling team during its glory years of 2001 to 2004, approximately 60 to 65 percent of the team’s total budget, according to documents newly obtained from the agency under the federal Freedom of Information Act.

The materials provide the first clear look at how heavily the agency invested in Armstrong and reveal the exact dollar amounts at issue should Armstrong and former team officials be charged with fraudulent use of government funds at the conclusion of an ongoing federal investigation.

Until now, the USPS has gone to great lengths to keep the precise amount it spent on Armstrong a secret. In 2003, the agency’s Office of the Inspector General issued an audit report that was highly critical of the deal but blacked-out specific sponsorship amounts.

As recently as last summer, when a federal grand jury in Los Angeles began hearing testimony from ex-members of Armstrong’s team, Postal Service officials continued to be tight-lipped about their sponsorship, responding to a Freedom of Information Act request by The File with heavily redacted documents.

To give a perspective on the endorsement deal, GM paid Tiger Woods $40 million to sponsor Buick over a five-year span that ended in 2009.  Woods played almost every week all year in nationally-televised golf events, while Armstrong’s team had one event a year of interest to USPS customers — the Tour de France.  Staples pays around $6 million a year for naming rights to its arena in Los Angeles where the Lakers, Kings, Clippers, and Sparks play.  Qualcomm pays $900,000 per year for naming rights to the stadium that hosts the San Diego Padres and the Chargers, which puts their name in play year-round [see update].  The Mall of America bought the naming rights for the Metrodome in 2009, which you’d be able to see — if the roof hadn’t collapsed last month.

Now, though, USPS’ sponsorship will play a key role in determining whether Armstrong’s team, Tailwind Sports, fraudulently used government funds while running a doping scheme to win championships.  One of Armstrong’s teammates, Floyd Landis, apparently blew the whistle to the feds on doping, although everyone connected with Tailwind denies it.  Landis, who was caught doping, may end up getting a windfall if the government can prove fraud; whistleblowers are entitled to up to a third of the trebled damages that come from these types of convictions.

Even apart from the fraud allegations, the fact that USPS shelled out $32 million for this endorsement over four years seems like a good point on which to question the other decisions being made by USPS management.  If Tailwind turns out to be utterly clean, they still managed to find a sucker.

Update: One of my readers, great commenters, and friends from the CapQ days, Joe Behm, reminds me that the Padres now play in Petco Park.  Joe runs a company called Behmor, which makes coffee bean roasters; if you’re a coffee aficionado, you should check it out.

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Comment pages: 1 2

but it was hip

rob verdi on January 15, 2011 at 11:32 AM

I guess Zippy was asking for too much money, so Armstrong was the better deal.

(Younger folks will need to google it)

ButterflyDragon on January 15, 2011 at 11:35 AM

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night will stop the USPS from wasting your money.

Electrongod on January 15, 2011 at 11:35 AM

It seems kinda ballsy for the USPS to sponsor anyone.

Fallon on January 15, 2011 at 11:37 AM

If Tailwind turns out to be utterly clean, they still managed to find a sucker.

Why do I find myself hearing Sammy Davis Jr singing Candyman now. Thanks Ed.

OT-could the alledged doping issue have contributed to Armstrong’s cancer?

lyfsatrip on January 15, 2011 at 11:38 AM

Kind of like Government Motors spending money on
““investing” in windmills, and planting trees.”

Dandapani on January 15, 2011 at 11:39 AM

The PO is totally screwed up.

The U.S. Postal Service may be struggling, but outgoing Postmaster General John Potter can count on a comfortable array of benefits to sustain him after he steps down Dec. 3, according to a rundown included in the U.S. Postal Service’s 10-K report made public Monday.

Chief among them is almost $3.1 million in pension benefits accumulated during his 32 years with the Postal Service. In that respect, Potter would appear to be no different from any other USPS employee with a similar salary history and tenure in the Civil Service Retirement System.

But he will also be able to tap a separate pension created for him by the Postal Service’s Board of Governors in 2001, payable on his achieving specific performance goals. That pension is now worth about $1.35 million; the board froze it in 2007 in favor of direct performance incentives.

In addition, Potter, whose fiscal 2010 base salary was $273,296, also has built up more than $881,000 in deferred compensation–including interest–for awards and incentives earned since the 1990s that he will now be able to draw out in 10 annual installments, Postal Service spokesman Gerry McKiernan said.

Inanemergencydial on January 15, 2011 at 11:39 AM

Wonder if that means if you licked the back of a Lance Armstrong Commemorative Stamp, you would most likely fail a doping test.

pilamaye on January 15, 2011 at 11:41 AM

I understand the USPS is sponsoring the New Black Panthers next year…

d1carter on January 15, 2011 at 11:41 AM

GM paid Tiger to sponsor buick because they thought it would increse sales. And it probably did. It’s a reasonable marketing strategy. Does anyone think the sponsorship of USPS by Lance Armstrong increased revenue to the USPS? Because is anyone really going to choose USPS over, say UPS, because of a celebrity endorsement?

mbs on January 15, 2011 at 11:44 AM

But it’s totally worth it, look at all the money bicycle racing generates in the U.S., oh wait.

P.S., Love the FRS Lance Armstrong ad that comes with this.

lowandslow on January 15, 2011 at 11:45 AM

Why does the Postal Service have to advertise?

Skandia Recluse on January 15, 2011 at 11:48 AM

Well, Lance thought it was totally worth it. He’s rich now.

darwin on January 15, 2011 at 11:48 AM

I think the administrators are getting paid a ridiculously high salary also. I wonder how they compare with FedEx and UPS?

Cindy Munford on January 15, 2011 at 11:52 AM

I am an avid cycling fan, but have always thought it inappropriate that a quasi-governmental organization was a sponsor. Our tax dollars help fund the PO, so ‘we the people’ sponsored the cycling team. I do not consider this a valid use of my taxes!

ConservativeMom on January 15, 2011 at 11:54 AM

“This NFL game break has been brought to you by Secret antiperspirant and the U.S. Government, the greatest smelling government in the world. When you think deodorant, think Federal Government.”

Bishop on January 15, 2011 at 11:57 AM

O/T:

This vid is worth a look see. Funny and politically astute.

http://conservatives4palin.com/2011/01/the-logic-of-blaming-palin.html

Geochelone on January 15, 2011 at 11:58 AM

If we have to use USPS stamps alone to mail letters, why do they need the advertising?? Even the money they make on packages cannot be worth $32 million!

PattyJ on January 15, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Cindy Munford on January 15, 2011 at 11:52 AM

I know Franklin Raines and Jamie Gorelick made millions. Essentially they were working for Uncle Sam by proxy.

Geochelone on January 15, 2011 at 12:01 PM

Why is the Post Office still a part of the Federal Government?
In an era of Email, UPS, Fedex and a whole host of other private shippers and communicators, why on Earth are we still subsidizing this dinosaur? The USPS doesn’t do one single thing that couldn’t be done better by a whole range of private firms.
This is just colossally stupid!!!

Lew on January 15, 2011 at 12:05 PM

Until now, the USPS has gone to great lengths to keep the precise amount it spent on Armstrong a secret.

Does this fall under the umbrella of the freedom of information act?

How the hell does our government get away with Hiding how it spends OUR MONEY. Financial disclosures should be a commonplace.

Geochelone on January 15, 2011 at 12:08 PM

Floyd Landis was a cheater who got caught. He was not a member of Armstrong’s team at the time he got caught and I think it unfair to link them for the singular purpose of disparaging Lance Armstrong.

As a seven time Tour de France winner, Armstrong has to be the most tested individual on the face of the planet. He never failed any test of any kind.

Having said that, what the heck was the USPS doing sponsoring anybody? Who is the USPS competing against? Itself?

BigAlSouth on January 15, 2011 at 12:09 PM

The $8 Million a year gets spread out amongst all the team including riders, equipment, medical, logistics, etc. Sponsorship of cycling is VERY expensive. Most people would be surprised at how little a rider actually gets in pro cycling. Endorsements are key and that is where Lance has made his money.

As to the USPS, the losses incurred are in great part the fault of the Gov’t, namely Congress. Laws severely limit the amount of postage increases and are indexed to inflation. When a company like UPS sees a decrease in volume, they can adjust prices to make up the difference. Last year, USPS requested a rate increase and was turned down. This despite severe losses. US Postage rates are amongst the lowest in the entire world and the Gov’t likes to keep it that way.

I wasn’t particularly happy with the USPS endorsement deal. But it is a drop in the bucket in the larger scheme of things.

Believe it or not, USPS efficiency is amazingly high and the volume of mail moving daily in this country is mind-boggling.

BierManVA on January 15, 2011 at 12:09 PM

It just boggles the mind the amount of waste, fraud, and mismanaging of taxpayers money any government agency does! It makes me so mad they do this and then want more money to do the same thing. Stop funding these agencies dc!
L

letget on January 15, 2011 at 12:12 PM

Who is the USPS competing against? Itself?

BigAlSouth on January 15, 2011 at 12:09 PM

Do FEDEX and UPS ring a bell? USPS package rates are far cheaper than FEDEX and UPS.

How many people here know that FEDEX and UPS use the USPS to deliver THEIR packages. It’s called “Last Mile.” They drop off packages at Post Offices in the evening and USPS delivers the next morning. This way, USPS makes some money for very little effort and FEDEX, et al save a little. it’s a win-win and is one way USPS is trying to make $$$$.

BierManVA on January 15, 2011 at 12:14 PM

It just boggles the mind the amount of waste, fraud, and mismanaging of taxpayers money any government agency does!
letget on January 15, 2011 at 12:12 PM

USPS is a quasi-governmental agency and takes no tax revenue. It is allowed to borrow from the treasury but must pay it back.

BierManVA on January 15, 2011 at 12:17 PM

I offered the USPS as a “sacrificial lamb” many times as part of my budget-cutting ideas.

SouthernGent on January 15, 2011 at 12:18 PM

Floyd Landis was a cheater who got caught. He was not a member of Armstrong’s team at the time he got caught and I think it unfair to link them for the singular purpose of disparaging Lance Armstrong.
BigAlSouth on January 15, 2011 at 12:09 PM

Floyd had a lot of people fooled for sure. That being said, he cheated for many years. My opinion is that Lance and the rest probably did all cheat and were one step ahead of the testing with transfusions, etc. Technology started to catch up though and many guys went down.

My view is that any failed doping test result in a lifetime ban. Period, end of story, do not pass go. That would end doping post haste.

BierManVA on January 15, 2011 at 12:21 PM

It is allowed to borrow from the treasury but must pay it back.

BierManVA on January 15, 2011 at 12:17 PM

At what interest rate?

Missy on January 15, 2011 at 12:21 PM

I don’t know about the rest of you but from 2001 to 2004 I completely swore off UPS & FEDex and went with the USPS for all my letters, packages, etc specifically because of Lance Armstrong. It was his endorsement that convinced me.

/sarc

Tim Zank on January 15, 2011 at 12:22 PM

At what interest rate?

Missy on January 15, 2011 at 12:21 PM

One would have to assume the same as the banks….0%

Tim Zank on January 15, 2011 at 12:23 PM

BierManVA@12:17,
Thanks for the information.
L

letget on January 15, 2011 at 12:24 PM

Why does a monopoly advertise?

publiuspen on January 15, 2011 at 12:26 PM

How many people here know that FEDEX and UPS use the USPS to deliver THEIR packages. It’s called “Last Mile.” They drop off packages at Post Offices in the evening and USPS delivers the next morning. This way, USPS makes some money for very little effort and FEDEX, et al save a little. it’s a win-win and is one way USPS is trying to make $$$$.

BierManVA on January 15, 2011 at 12:14 PM

Perhaps in some places, but definitely not here. I still have plenty of brown vans and two kinds of white vans (one of which says “FEDEX” on the side) coming down my residential street every day. And the Post Office is at the end of my block. If Fed Ex or UPS were going to use the USPS in my area, it’s a great setup.

Legally Blonde’s delivery guy would have worn a slightly different uniform.

unclesmrgol on January 15, 2011 at 12:26 PM

If it wasn’t for this huge obscene amount of money spent on this worthless advertising, I would not be using the U.S. Post office for my everyday mail…

right2bright on January 15, 2011 at 12:27 PM

I think the USPS should sponsor the U.S. Soccer team next year.

pain train on January 15, 2011 at 12:27 PM

Why does a monopoly advertise?

publiuspen on January 15, 2011 at 12:26 PM

waste and fraud are inherent traits of government.

Inanemergencydial on January 15, 2011 at 12:28 PM

If the USPS had gone under years ago, a private sector company would have stepped up to take their place. This is how it works. Same for GM and Chrysler, the world didn’t end when Hudson and Nash went out of business.

Kissmygrits on January 15, 2011 at 12:30 PM

unclesmrgol on January 15, 2011 at 12:26 PM

You’d be surprised. UPS and FEDEX drivers will tell you that many times, they will drive right by a house that has a package and will drop it at the Post Office for next day delivery. So how efficient is that? Even the Post Office isn’t that stupid.

In other words, seeing the Brown truck in your neighborhood does not mean they aren’t doing last mile. One has to look at the shipping label closely to see where fedex delivers to the local post office address and then the customer address is below that.

BierManVA on January 15, 2011 at 12:34 PM

I agree that the USPS was *really* pushing it to do this in the first place. It seems very far afield from what they do, but two points to consider.

1) USPS, earlier in the 2000s, was trying to do what the privatized Deutsche Post is doing today – international logistical services. The customers for that are all over the world, with the strongest potential international user base in Europe. It wasn’t wholesale a bad idea. For everything the USPS does, only mail delivery to your door is a monopoly. It’s not wrong to advertise.

2) Far less relevant, but to the Tiger Woods comparison above, it wasn’t $32m directly into the pockets of the riders. USPS bankrolled much of the team’s operating expenses; they weren’t just paying bonuses to riders in order to get their name on the jersey and the bus. Honestly, if you’d asked me before this how much they spent, I would have said upwards of $100m. International cycling is hugely expensive.

alflauren on January 15, 2011 at 12:34 PM

Not quite OT since you mentioned it, but Behmor roasters are VERY highly regarded by home coffee roasters. I use a hacked hot air popcorn popper and a Behmor is on my “one of these days” list. Thanks to Joe for a great product serving a very niche market.

skoot65 on January 15, 2011 at 12:35 PM

Questions:

A: Have any of the endorsements the USPS paid for over the year sold 1 additional stamp?

B. Is this just a way for the Director to get to hob knob?

Dread Pirate Roberts VI on January 15, 2011 at 12:35 PM

Obviously what the USPS needs is another govt. bailout. Too big to fail! /

O/T:
This vid is worth a look see. Funny and politically astute.
http://conservatives4palin.com/2011/01/the-logic-of-blaming-palin.html

Geochelone on January 15, 2011 at 11:58 AM

Thanks for that link! Hilarious stuff.

conservative pilgrim on January 15, 2011 at 12:36 PM

By ANTHONY McCARTNEY
The Associated Press
Whether or not USPS should be part of the govt is a valid question, but it is a business, and apparently the sponsorship turned 3x ROI according to this report.

Friday, January 14, 2011; 6:56 PM
LOS ANGELES — 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.

Obtained by The Associated Press, reports by a pair of marketing firms covering 2001-2004 state the USPS received $103.6 million in domestic value from sponsoring the Armstrong-led teams during his historic run of Tour de France wins from 1999 to 2005.

digitalintrigue on January 15, 2011 at 12:39 PM

USPS package rates are far cheaper than FEDEX and UPS.

And that’s after the taxpayer-provided subsidy and mafia-like agreements with the airlines to actually move the mail. UPS and FEDEX have to cover all their costs in their advertised shipping fees. USPS does not.

BobMbx on January 15, 2011 at 12:44 PM

Is it possible that part of the justification for the sum is potential international customers (as in in Europe, where cycling is has a larger audience)? Still seems high, but still…

ParisParamus on January 15, 2011 at 12:47 PM

reports by a pair of marketing firms covering 2001-2004 state the USPS received $103.6 million in domestic value from sponsoring the Armstrong-led teams during his historic run of Tour de France wins from 1999 to 2005.

They’re saying they took in $103.6 million in revenue that they wouldn’t otherwise have generated if they hadn’t given Armstrong $32 million? How on earth can they determine that?

Missy on January 15, 2011 at 12:52 PM

BobMbx on January 15, 2011 at 12:44 PM

Read my previous post. USPS does not receive tax payer subsidies.

As to mafia-like agreements. Please educate us. Like any high volume customer, the USPS certainly can negotiate their air rates. And nothing required FEDEX to maintain their own fleet of airplanes.

BierManVA on January 15, 2011 at 12:55 PM

Ed, it is one thing to take USPS to task for their sponsorship; highly successful BTW when you take into account the team’s many other podiums. It is another to malign cycling in the way your post comes off. Yes, for the average Yank, the TdF is the only cycling race of note. Yet there are many of us in the cycling community that follow all the other races. (Do you know that the Tour Down Under starts this Tuesday?)
__
As mentioned above, cycling is extremely expensive, and the comparison to Tiger Woods and other sports is quite misleading. What you listed is for buying an “Ad-man” or puchasing naming rights. What USPS payed for were actual salaries. Preparing for the TdF is a year long effort of not just one rider, but his 8 squad-mates, the other 20 riders not selected to race in July, all their bicycle mechanics, soigneurs, and chefs, the drivers of the support vehicles, the managers coordinating all of this, and the travel agents making sure the entire entourage is where it needs to be with all appropriate equipment.

bains on January 15, 2011 at 12:59 PM

I’m not a Post Office hater; They usually do a superb job of getting stuff from one place to another (Except for the horrible Maryvale branch in Phoenix, but thyat’s a whole ‘nother story).

I find the USPS First class and Priority mails to generally be significantly faster than UPS and Fed-Ex unless you go for the big-buck options.

However, I despise their management incompetence and their marketing BS. They shouldn’t be sponsoring anyone. There should be only one stamp design particular valuation of stamp, and it shouldn’t change. ANd there are many other ways they could save money without cutting service.

LegendHasIt on January 15, 2011 at 1:02 PM

Armstrong has repeatedly been accused of doping- he’s also been repeatedly drug tested and passed those tests. In the Tour for example the top riders are tested every day along with a sampling of those further down the ranks. Then there are the drug tests for all the other races during the season plus random out of season training. Armstrong has passed hundreds of drug tests- I can’t believe that the accusation of someone who failed a test and apparently holds a major grudge outweighs that evidence.

Cycling has a terrible record on doping but Armstrong won his Tours without ever failing a test. Accusations have always been hurled at Armstrong, particularly by the French who hated to see an American winning their race. The simple fact of the matter is that he out-rode everyone else in the peloton, and did so at a time when other riders were being caught by the procedures put in place.

Jay Mac on January 15, 2011 at 1:03 PM

Haven’t had mail delivery in over a week thanks to 6 inches of snow last Sunday. Don’t give me that “Neither snow nor ice” business.

Quisp on January 15, 2011 at 1:05 PM

Read my previous post. USPS does not receive tax payer subsidies.
BierManVA on January 15, 2011 at 12:55 PM

Call it what you want, or ignore it if you want…but when a government mandates a service, that’s a subsidy. When they give special accounting and tax breaks, it is a subsidy.

Read this from the FTC:

However, because the USPS is a federal government entity, the USPS’s competitive products operations enjoy an estimated implicit subsidy of between $39-$117 million a year.

You are welcome, glad to bring you into reality…Gov subsidized business exists because they receive preferred and special treatment, at the cost of the taxpayers…who are also their “competitors”.

right2bright on January 15, 2011 at 1:05 PM

The simple fact of the matter is that he out-rode everyone else in the peloton, and did so at a time when other riders were being caught by the procedures put in place.

Jay Mac on January 15, 2011 at 1:03 PM

The simple fact is that he was paid 8 million dollars from a gov. subsidized business to be the greatest at his trade…but I don’t pay taxes for that purpose.

right2bright on January 15, 2011 at 1:07 PM

You’d be surprised. UPS and FEDEX drivers will tell you that many times, they will drive right by a house that has a package and will drop it at the Post Office for next day delivery. So how efficient is that? Even the Post Office isn’t that stupid.

BierManVA on January 15, 2011 at 12:34 PM

I just checked two packages the UPS guy handed me. No post office address (obviously). If they are doing it the way you describe, then there has to be an efficiency. The point I think you are making is that they may use the post office as a dropoff for a neighborhood which they find uneconomical to deliver to. I would expect that those neighborhoods are what used to be referred to as “Rural Delivery Areas” or “Rural Routes” — where the population density is low enough that they’d burn a lot of fuel just to get out to a single house.

unclesmrgol on January 15, 2011 at 1:12 PM

Simply outrageous! Let’s not forget the millions spent before the Nov 2nd election to Andy Griffith to tout the splendors of the Health Care Reform Act. BTW when are we ever going to see Saturday mail deliver axed???

Bob in VA on January 15, 2011 at 1:13 PM

Well, it was one of the better endorsements… in that it was memorable and attracted you to the product.

ninjapirate on January 15, 2011 at 1:17 PM

It is allowed to borrow from the treasury but must pay it back.

BierManVA on January 15, 2011 at 12:17 PM

When?

Cindy Munford on January 15, 2011 at 1:20 PM

USPS package rates are far cheaper than FEDEX and UPS.

Thaank You Cliff Clavin

Wade on January 15, 2011 at 1:29 PM

NEWMAN!

Wade on January 15, 2011 at 1:30 PM

unclesmrgol on January 15, 2011 at 1:12 PM

We see Fedex and UPS vehicles on the streets here all the time but occasionally I get a package that went UPS (or Fedex, but that’s less often for me) until it got to my town and then was dropped off at the post office, delivered by the mail carrier. It’s always a “ground” rate thing – but not all ground rate UPS packages are dropped off at the post office. I do get some that are delivered by the brown van so I’m not sure how it works.

Eren on January 15, 2011 at 1:31 PM

Well, it was one of the better endorsements… in that it was memorable and attracted you to the product.

ninjapirate on January 15, 2011 at 1:17 PM

Yes, few of us knew that we could mail a letter with the U.S. Postal Office, what a great service.

right2bright on January 15, 2011 at 1:33 PM

Maybe the post office had a long term goal whereby mailmen would ditch motorized vehicles, ride bikes to deliver mail, and thus save the environment. Who better than Lance to inspire them to put aside their petty grumblings about the discomfort of riding in snow, rain and hail and go green for the greater good?

Buy Danish on January 15, 2011 at 1:47 PM

The simple fact is that he was paid 8 million dollars from a gov. subsidized business to be the greatest at his trade…but I don’t pay taxes for that purpose.

right2bright on January 15, 2011 at 1:07 PM

I wasn’t commenting on the millions of dollars the Post Office spent, just the drug allegations levelled against Armstrong.

I had assumed that USPS operated internationally and hence the cycling deal was not so much to promote their services in to Americans but to Europeans. Do they operate in Europe in competition with FedEx, etc in trying to capture the incoming business mail market?

That’s the only reason I can think of for why they would sponsor a cycling team that spends the majority of its time racing in little seen races outside of the US.

Presumably they had some kind of oversight on the sponsorship deal? Did they have any accounting for increased business brought in by the advertising? If so, how did it compare to the amount spent? Did that $32 million result in any new business for them?

Without seeing that information I think it’s premature to slam the sponsorship- big companies spent big bucks on advertising. The pertinent question here, it seems to me, is not how much did they spend, but did they see a return on that investment?

Jay Mac on January 15, 2011 at 1:50 PM

Yes, few of us knew that we could mail a letter with the U.S. Postal Office, what a great service.

right2bright on January 15, 2011 at 1:33 PM

LOL.

I like USPS’s delivery service – speedy and reliable, and they usually don’t destroy packages.

What I don’t like is the lousy hours and long lines at the post office and the overpaid workers’ crappy attitude.

Missy on January 15, 2011 at 1:56 PM

Yes, few of us knew that we could mail a letter with the U.S. Postal Office, what a great service.
right2bright on January 15, 2011 at 1:33 PM

touche’

Buy Danish on January 15, 2011 at 1:58 PM

$32 million for Lance to appear on posters and TV spots?

Maybe if they got back to the basics…exemplified by that old Postmaster Farley “motto” derived from a quote from Herodotus’ Histories regarding the Persian couriers of the ancient times. To wit:

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”

might do them some good and all of us as well.

Instead we get their new “motto” which runs kinda sorta:

“We are not Burger King, you get it our way or you don’t get the muther at all…ever.”

And, oh yeah, there is that union thing….talk about a money pit.

coldwarrior on January 15, 2011 at 1:59 PM

I guarantee you, someone high up in the USPS that negotiated this deal was a huge cycling fan and took annual trips to the Tour de France as a “major sponsor”. Great way to get your passions/vacations paid for. Who was/were these individual(s).

PatMac on January 15, 2011 at 2:01 PM

Without seeing that information I think it’s premature to slam the sponsorship- big companies spent big bucks on advertising.
Jay Mac on January 15, 2011 at 1:50 PM

Big companies are in the free market and if they want to throw money away, that is their right.
This is a gov. entity, and I don’t like my tax dollars, 32 million tax dollars, thrown at a guy with a yellow jersey.
Wouldn’t it be smart to smack these guys around a little, so next time they think and actually advise us what they are doing with the money?
So you think the USPS is afraid of losing some homeowner in Italy who places a stamp on a letter, takes it to his mail office, and will demand they not use the USPS?
Pal, you are what liberals love…you see both sides even when one side is completely hidden from you, or one side that you have to create a fantasy world for your “side” to exist.
Just think how much more publicity they would have gotten if like Lance rode a unicorn instead of a bike…
BTW, I love Lance, just not enough to give him 32 million of my money.

right2bright on January 15, 2011 at 2:09 PM

PatMac on January 15, 2011 at 2:01 PM

You can take that to the bank…

right2bright on January 15, 2011 at 2:11 PM

I am sorry I don’t get your thought here? Are you saying that advertising is bad? The people that know the least about business always say cut marketing and advertising since they are listed as expenses and not assets. Well I do believe that history has shown that shortsightedness to be misplaced at best.

Sponsoring winning sports teams has always had huge advantages. When Armstrong was winning the USPS images were being shown on ESPN, CNN, SI, FOX, every primetime News channel. They got a huge bang for their buck. There is so much to complain about in regards to the USPS this is not one of them.

Jdripper on January 15, 2011 at 2:42 PM

For some time I have been advocating that the first thing to be cut should be the advertising and promotional budgets for all departments. This is an expense that has no constituancy to protest or, at least, a small and unsympathetic one. Stories like this merely reinforce my attitude.

Hucklebuck on January 15, 2011 at 2:45 PM

There is so much to complain about in regards to the USPS this is not one of them.

Jdripper on January 15, 2011 at 2:42 PM

So instead of 100% of the people of the U.S. having to use the USPS, it is now 100%?
They have a monopoly…they are subsidized and protected by the government. I get running ads, but this is 32 million for one guy on a bike, in Europe.

right2bright on January 15, 2011 at 2:48 PM

Good thing the USPS sponsors events. So many times I want to send a document to another person. And I think to myself, what is that corporation that takes documents from me and delivers them to other people? And then I think back to the Tour de France and EUREKA! it all becomes clear. It’s the US Postal Service.

Phew. What a relief. Had I not remembered that, I would have had to deliver the document in person. So I say it was a good $32M spent for sure.

angryed on January 15, 2011 at 2:50 PM

Phew. What a relief. Had I not remembered that, I would have had to deliver the document in person. So I say it was a good $32M spent for sure.

angryed on January 15, 2011 at 2:50 PM

You were that missing person they were targeting, they knew one person was holding out, and figured for 32 million, they would find you.

right2bright on January 15, 2011 at 2:55 PM

How does this even get approved? This is pure insanity and I can’t believe some think it is no big deal.
32 million, that no matter how you slice it,they don’t have on a race in a foriegn country that really only headlines one guy?
Nuts, and we should be happy to have these nuts in charge of our health care?
Sorry, your dialysis has been cut off but look at our blimp at the world championship soccer games.
Morons.

ORconservative on January 15, 2011 at 3:20 PM

Having lived in Travis County Lance is a ICK. His neighbors and he got into it over water pollution from Lance’s simple humble country abode.Not sure his X thinks well of him either,big EGO thingy.
We could auction off the post office to the cargo package companies for 5 years if it does not work out rebid it.

Col.John Wm. Reed on January 15, 2011 at 3:23 PM

I wasn’t particularly happy with the USPS endorsement deal. But it is a drop in the bucket in the larger scheme of things.

Believe it or not, USPS efficiency is amazingly high and the volume of mail moving daily in this country is mind-boggling.

BierManVA on January 15, 2011 at 12:09 PM

I don’t care about the USPS efficiency or the frickin’ volume of mail. They have no business sponsoring anybody. Jeeesh! A few million here, a few million there, those drops in a bucket tend to add up.

Sloan Morganstern on January 15, 2011 at 3:28 PM

There should be only one stamp design particular valuation of stamp, and it shouldn’t change. ANd there are many other ways they could save money without cutting service.

LegendHasIt on January 15, 2011 at 1:02 PM

Yeah. We don’t need Miss Piggy stamps and Elvis stamps. Jeeesh!

Sloan Morganstern on January 15, 2011 at 4:19 PM

Big companies are in the free market and if they want to throw money away, that is their right.
This is a gov. entity, and I don’t like my tax dollars, 32 million tax dollars, thrown at a guy with a yellow jersey.
Wouldn’t it be smart to smack these guys around a little, so next time they think and actually advise us what they are doing with the money?
So you think the USPS is afraid of losing some homeowner in Italy who places a stamp on a letter, takes it to his mail office, and will demand they not use the USPS?
Pal, you are what liberals love…you see both sides even when one side is completely hidden from you, or one side that you have to create a fantasy world for your “side” to exist.

From what I understand the USPS is a self-sufficient group which receives subsidies from the gov to deliver mail (to the disabled and to the military). I also understand that they are running deficits because of the switch from mail to email- and are borrowing gov money to keep them afloat. They haven’t been directly funded by the government since the 1980s apparently.

I’m not saying they did the right thing in sponsoring Armstrong’s team, I’m merely trying to point out that if it turns out that their $32 million investment in the team turns out to have brought in an extra $100 million in new business then it might be considered money well spent. Of course it could turn out that they brought in no new extra business during the same period then it was a massive waste of money.

The point is, if the sponsorship deal worked they might have needed less government money to cover their losses than they’ve otherwise taken. Which would mean LESS of your tax dollars being used to pay their bills, woudln’t it?

In other words, until some actual FACTS about the impact of the sponsorship deal is made it’s a little early to jump to conclusions. Companies don’t spend all that money without some method of tracing its impact so presumably someone somewhere can access that information.

Jay Mac on January 15, 2011 at 5:01 PM

A few million here, a few million there, those drops in a bucket tend to add up.

Sloan Morganstern on January 15, 2011 at 3:28 PM

Do you complain when Fedex advertises too?

Regardless of what right2bright claims, there is no tax money given to the USPS. And when someone wants to turn all that “Implicit subsidy” into cash, please let me in on a few $$ of it. Because it does not exist.

Another thing that amuses me is that even though many here are pro constitution, they seem to forget that one of the few enumerated powers IS the Post Office!

Not2bright also fails to quote the following from his article:

Federally imposed restraints on the USPS’s operations increase its costs to provide competitive products by an estimated $330-$782 million a year.

BierManVA on January 15, 2011 at 5:05 PM

There should be only one stamp design particular valuation of stamp, and it shouldn’t change. ANd there are many other ways they could save money without cutting service.

LegendHasIt on January 15, 2011 at 1:02 PM

Philatelic sales are a huge money maker for the Post Office. People buy postage and never use it!

If you want your Gov to really save money, have the Mint stop making the One Cent coins.

BierManVA on January 15, 2011 at 5:10 PM

If you want your Gov to really save money, have the Mint stop making the One Cent coins.

BierManVA on January 15, 2011 at 5:10 PM
No can not do the native folk beat the coins into crude shapes and sell them to the tourist as proof The Vikings were in Ohio.

Col.John Wm. Reed on January 15, 2011 at 5:16 PM

Here’s an interesting take on the USPS sponsorship deal from Cycling News from 2004-

http://autobus.cyclingnews.com/letters/?id=2004/mar26letters

Scroll down to “USPS Serendipity”

You’ll have to verify the information contained therein yourselves but it seems that their advertising budget at the time was around the $300 million mark-
http://directmag.com/news/marketing_usps_cuts_ad/

Jay Mac on January 15, 2011 at 5:23 PM

I was with one of Saturn’s marketing agencies when they sponsored a cycling team. Cycling sponsorships didn’t do anything for Saturn either.

bw222 on January 15, 2011 at 5:24 PM

It’s clear that Lance etal. were cheating. Now that the Tour has created biochemical profiles of each racer and they test much more often, race times have dropped around 5% since Lance’s winning years. And he’s dropped off even more as we saw in his last Tour. Lance was doping as was everyone else. It’s what elite cyclists have done for a half century or more. They just got more sophisticated over the decades.

But that drop in speeds among everyone can only be explained by reduction in doping. Bikes and other equipment haven’t gotten worse. The courses haven’t gotten hillier (I don’t recall France undergoing major geologic upheavals in recent years). The bikers don’t train less or eat worse. That leaves one factor that’s changed — the drugs.

LenSp1 on January 15, 2011 at 5:45 PM

Do FEDEX and UPS ring a bell? USPS package rates are far cheaper than FEDEX and UPS.

Not really, but the USPS appreciates your support.

xblade on January 15, 2011 at 5:45 PM

And he’s dropped off even more as we saw in his last Tour.

He’s also older now than he was during his winning years, so of course he has dropped off since then.

xblade on January 15, 2011 at 5:48 PM

Not really, but the USPS appreciates your support.

xblade on January 15, 2011 at 5:45 PM

No, you are incorrect. This is from 2009 but rates are similar. Flat rate is even a better deal.

http://www.moneytalksnews.com/2009/12/23/cheapest-overnight-shipping-2009/

BierManVA on January 15, 2011 at 6:09 PM

Federally imposed restraints on the USPS’s operations increase its costs to provide competitive products by an estimated $330-$782 million a year.

Aw, poor USPS! I’m sure the monopoly on the uncompetitive product, also known as daily mail delivery, softens the blow just a tad.

Missy on January 15, 2011 at 6:44 PM

That leaves one factor that’s changed — the drugs.

LenSp1 on January 15, 2011 at 5:45 PM

Actually, you forgot about global warming. With the hotter atmosphere, evaporation occurs more frequently, thus providing a more humid environment.

The humidity actually increases drag coefficients on the …

Okay… I couldn’t do it. I tried to do it with a straight face, but I couldn’t.

ButterflyDragon on January 15, 2011 at 7:04 PM

Next time there is a request for a postage increase, those #%$@& running the PO should be told – “Go get it from Lance”.

GarandFan on January 15, 2011 at 9:49 PM

Fedex advertises for a competitive edge against UPS, mainly, against USPS not so much. I assume the ads played worldwide, maybe not. But who was the intended audience for the ads? The US residents? Like they don’t know about the postal service? I don’t think they were advertising to other countries, philatelists excepted.

Also, I have never had a package lost, damaged or misdirected while using UPS or Fedex. I often get mangled envelops and packages delivered by the Postal Service.

Sloan Morganstern on January 15, 2011 at 9:56 PM

I don’t give a rat’s @ss if the USPS advertises wisely or not, whether Lance Armstrong is a doper or not, whether the USPS is efficient or not, or whether it actually needs Federal money or not. It’s STUPID to have it be a function of the Federal Government!!!
And as far as it being one of the Constitution’s enumerated powers is concerned, just because the government CAN do it doesn’t mean they SHOULD do it. It’s pointless and stupid and unnecessary, so why in God’s name do we keep doing it?

Lew on January 15, 2011 at 10:40 PM

Appears the French had this one right all along. The shame of it all! How Gauling!!! Is that actor dude still hanging out with him and hanging out with him?

Sherman1864 on January 15, 2011 at 10:41 PM

Here are the average speeds for the TdF

See here- http://bikeraceinfo.com/tdf/tdfstats.html

If you look back at them you’ll see that some Tours are faster than others- one is not always quicker than the one preceding it.

Other than doping one of the factors that will affect the speed is the competitiveness of the field. A number of strong teams and major contenders can work together to keep even the flatter, less strategically significant stages at a higher average speed than normal. The course and the weather can also affect the overall speed. Doping isn’t the only factor to consider.

They don’t race flat out all the time, they race fast enough to beat the guy in second place.

And given that doping was so much more common in the past it’s curious that speeds weren’t significantly higher then than they are now when drug testing regimens are much tougher. As with other sports, more advanced training techniques are wringing every little bit of performance it can from the human body.

Jay Mac on January 15, 2011 at 10:56 PM

Ha ha. Thanks to an internet “cookie”, a Lance Armstrong “FRS” anti-fatigue “health” supplement ad is running with the article.

Big John on January 15, 2011 at 11:35 PM

I am a big fan of Lance’s riding (his personality; not so much) but I am not in favor of any government agency spending money on advertising. The post office is, at minimum, a highly regulated quasi-governmental operation.

Am I the only one noticing how many ads from various government agencies are being run on the stations carrying conservative talk radio? I used to think these were PSAs, but, no, we pay for them.

I don’t need no more stinkin’ propaganda, thanks.

And particularly when I am paying the bill for it.

skeeter on January 16, 2011 at 2:14 AM

This is not good reporting, Ed. The USPS did indeed gain revenue across the 4.5 years they sponsored a professional cycling team. Amazingly, they were more efficient in their role of management than Discovery Channel was during their tenure as prime sponsor of the same club.

You are mistaken on several other assumptions in your story as well. While the TdF was the highlight of the year for the Lance Armstrong-led teams, significant money was earned (of which the sponsors get a nice share) at dozens of other cycling events globally each year, including two major stage races here in the U.S., the Tour of Georgia and the Tour of California.

As for the comparisons with Tiger, in the cases of other than major or near-major tournaments, he’s seen on TV one or two days of those events, so probably about 40 or 50 days a year of coverage, for no more than two hours at a time, and almost exclusively in the U.S. The Tour de France isn’t a one-day-per-year jaunt, it spans just over three weeks, including 20 racing days, and is by a massive margin the biggest sporting event of the year in all of Europe, with people staying tuned in for more than 7 hours each day. Then there is the Tour du Suisse, the Vuelta d’Espana, the Giro d’Italia, Paris-Roubaix and several other mid-sized stage races which draw massive audiences across Europe, both on TV and on site. I absolutely guarantee you that hours of viewing time for Lance and the USPS team during those four seasons vastly exceeding those watching Tiger.

All in all, the USPS turns out fairly wise to have been backing the most remarkable athlete of our time while at his peak, dominating the most vicious three-week physical contest of its kind for seven consecutive years.

I’m no fan of government waste, but this is a non-story for that purpose. As for the advertising campaigns from government agencies, I’ve always hated them, other than military recruitment ads.

Freelancer on January 16, 2011 at 6:58 AM

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