What Is Toyotathon?

This pioneering sales campaign is almost 50 years old.

Two Toyota trucks in a television advertisementToyota


Toyotathon, December to Remember, and Honda Days are more than just holiday memes. They're successful auto sales promotions with long and innovative histories. Toyotathon helped Toyota turn the once-dead early winter into a cash cow for dealers and a deal factory for customers.

A Sales Event Timed With Model-Year Changeover

Toyotathon is a popular sales event designed to help Toyota dealers move out as much inventory as they can at the end of the year. Not only does this help boost the bottom line at dealerships across the country, it also makes room for new-model-year vehicles that typically start streaming onto lots at the beginning of the third quarter.

Toyota typically concentrates any special offers of cash back, low finance rates, or low lease rates during the Toyotathon period, leveraging customer excitement at a better-than-average deal with a limited-time promotion at dealerships across the United States.

A green Toyota Corolla Cross in a television advertisementToyota

It Came From the Southeast

The original Toyotathon concept didn't come from the brand's corporate offices but from one of its largest partners. Southeast Toyota Distributors, the world's largest independent Toyota distributor, convinced dealerships to collaborate on a massive television advertising campaign in 1976. The goal was to hype a 36-hour sale — Toyotathon — at 141 dealerships in 33 regions in the southeast.

The big sale was an unprecedented move that paid off handsomely. The program cost $250,000 but generated nearly $13 million in sales, with each dealership billed according to how many models they could move during the promotion.

Locations stayed open around the clock for the entire 36-hour event, creating a festival atmosphere that drew customers who were being served up to 40 ads per night. Ultimately, the first Toyotathon sold 3,000 vehicles with another 700 or so sold in the weeks after the blitz.

Toyotathon was so successful that in June of that same year, Toyota's Southern California dealers gave it a shot, too. With another 2,000 vehicles sold, it was clear the automaker had a hit on its hands. Soon, the Toyotathon concept went national.

A person placing a Christmas tree on a red Toyota Camry in a television advertisementToyota

A Holiday Tradition Is Born

By 1979, Toyotathons weren't just happening annually but had begun to shift to the end of the sales year. With hype for the sales beginning in November and moving through December, Toyotathon came to be associated with the holiday season.

This site is for educational purposes only. The third parties listed are not affiliated with Capital One and are solely responsible for their opinions, products and services. Capital One does not provide, endorse or guarantee any third-party product, service, information or recommendation listed above. The information presented in this article is believed to be accurate at the time of publication, but is subject to change. The images shown are for illustration purposes only and may not be an exact representation of the product. The material provided on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice or to indicate the availability or suitability of any Capital One product or service to your unique circumstances. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.
author photo
Benjamin Hunting
Benjamin Hunting is a writer and podcast host who contributes to a number of newspapers, automotive magazines, and online publications. More than a decade into his career, he enjoys keeping the shiny side up during track days and always has one too many classic vehicle projects partially disassembled in his garage at any given time. Remember, if it's not leaking, it's probably empty.