University of the Philippines Diliman students William Alonzo, Samantha Ching, Hanna Laurel and Nathan Oranga are not new to joining marketing competitions for students. So when Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) announced that it is opening its inaugural Toyota Young Marketeers Challenge (TYMC), the quartet from the state university’s College of Business Administration gave it a shot – even though automotive is not their forte.
For the competition, they were given the challenge of coming up with an integrated marketing campaign for TMP’s locally assembled model, the Toyota Vios. After weeks of developing the campaign and a whole day of pitching ideas on how to better market the Vios that’s already the Philippines’ best-selling vehicle – team UP Diliman was declared the grand champion, besting nine other colleges and universities that entered the finals round.
For a team that admits to be a newbie when it comes to automotive marketing and promotions, how did the group end up delivering the best Toyota Vios campaign that impressed a panel of judges composed of marketing industry veterans from various fields?
“We prepared for TYMC by doing a lot of research on the current automobile landscape and even holding Focus Group Discussions on perceptions of different cars,” said team member Samantha Ching. “We focused on following the consumer journey and drilling down a unique insight. Additionally, we scrapped a lot of our ideas when we‘d feel that we were only settling. Eventually, we arrived at a campaign that we were proud to show Toyota!”
Aside from the judges, top Toyota executives including TMP President Satoru Suzuki were present during the grand pitch day held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Through the TYMC, TMP aimed to give the students a real-world marketing career experience by allowing the students to go through each process.
The result was a highly charged battle of the most creative ideas from UP Diliman, second placer De La Salle University Manila, third placer De La Salle College of St. Benilde Antipolo and finalists (in alphabetical order) Centro Escolar University, Colegio de San Juan de Letran, De La Salle College of St. Benilde Manila, Far Eastern University, Miriam College, University of Makati, and University of Santo Tomas.
What made the UP pitch stand out? According to team member Hanna Laurel, their constant willingness to learn was a huge factor.
“Amidst the marketing lessons we had in class and the exposure we get from other case competitions we join, we still treat each and every opportunity as a new learning experience,” said Laurel
“Entering the competition, we were humble enough that the automotive industry is not our forte, moreso, relatively new to us. Given this, we really spent 4/5 the time given just to talk to people, and look for research and data that are relevant; and I think this intensive study helped us crack our strategy, all the way down to our executions and conclusion,” she added.
Nathan Oranga meanwhile believes that the team’s biggest learning from TYMC is that in marketing, the consumer’s insight is always key.
“If the consumer insight is not crafted well, then all of these would not turn out to be as effective as intended. A brand may produce the grandest events, or the most eye-catching advertisements, but if the message does not resonate with the consumer, then it would never lead to an action,” said Oranga.
But in the end, the product plays a big role in the success of any marketing campaign. In the case of the TYMC finalists, it helped that they were exposed to the car that is one of, if not the most ubiquitous vehicle in the Philippines.
“The Vios is a tried and tested reliable car that can match anyone’s drive. As the number one selling car in the country, it naturally just markets and sells itself. One can never go wrong with a Vios as it is a smart, practical, and exciting purchase. For millennials who want to make smart decisions, the Vios is a no-brainer,” said William Alonzo.
With the success of the first TYMC, college students can expect a follow-up youth program from TMP in the coming years.
“We are honored to bring you a program such as the Toyota Young Marketeers Challenge,” said TMP President Suzuki. “More than a competition, this is a platform for us to share with young people, the experience and learnings beyond the classroom. We believe in learning by doing – so I hope that by participating in this challenge, the students have acquired some insights that will help them become ready for the career track they would like to pursue.”