TORRANCE, Calif. — Responses were as straightforward as trying to pay down student loans, to as adventurous as setting off on a road trip to explore America’s great national parks. When Toyota Financial Services (TFS) launched its on-line College Grad Essay Contest in June this year, it asked recent college grads “In 100 words or less, what would you do with an extra $1,000 cash in your pocket?” and the responses flooded in.
From June 16, 2011 through July 13, 2011, eligible participants were invited to submit their essays at http://toyotagradcontest.com. The public was invited to vote on their favorite essays until August 11, 2011, after which, the top 10 vote getters had their essays judged by an independent panel. Of the 10 finalists, five were chosen to win $1,000 each.
And not just recent college graduates took home a little extra cash. To encourage public voting, registered voters were eligible to win one of 200 “Instant Win” $20 gift cards redeemable at Amazon.com. After the final voting ended, all registered voters were put into a random sweepstakes drawing for one prize of $1,000.
“What recent college grad couldn’t use an extra $1,000,” said Kerry Rivera, Marketing & Advertising Manager at TFS. “We thought this contest would be a fun way to gather ideas – practical, philanthropic, adventurous or outrageous – and help make a few of them come true.”
“Who would have thought that this would be the first payoff from my college degree” wrote Stephanie M. of Calhoun, Georgia. In her winning essay, she wrote that she would use the money to buy a new suit for interviews and take a mini-vacation. “It’s so awesome that Toyota recognizes college graduates in this way. The entire experience was a lot of fun!”
Fellow winner Samantha W. of Brookville, Pennsylvania, plans to share her prize, saying, “I am going to apply $800 to my college loan and give $200 to my sister who is a senior in college. It’s great to share and help her with her books.”
“Beyond the actual contest, we are especially pleased at how well the contest was able to drive more attention to Toyota’s best-in-market $1,000 college grad rebate. Traffic to the college grad landing page skyrocketed 228% over the same period last year, and we noticed a great deal of activity in the social media space as contestants shared their entries with their networks,” said Rivera.
The College Grad Essay Contest followed the announcement that TFS would be extending its College Grad Rebate program through January 3, 2012 which offers recent college grads (and those about to graduate) $1,000 off the purchase or lease of select new Toyota vehicles including the Corolla, Matrix, RAV4, Camry (excludes Camry hybrid), Tacoma and Yaris, plus all new Scion models, when financed or leased through a participating Toyota dealer and TFS.
All the winning essays may be viewed at http://toyotagradcontest.com.
About Toyota Financial Services
TFS is the finance and insurance brand for Toyota in the U.S., offering retail auto financing and leasing through Toyota Motor Credit Corporation (TMCC) and extended service contracts and other payment protection products through Toyota Motor Insurance Services (TMIS). TFS employs 3,300 associates nationwide, and has managed assets totaling $91.7 billion. It is part of a worldwide network of comprehensive financial services offered by Toyota Financial Services Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corporation.