the 2020 seasonal sales event showdown

by Bryant
June 11, 2021

December is truly a magical time. It’s a time of celebration -- of looking forward to the future. It’s a time of reflection and happiness. And nothing really makes me happier than my favorite event of the year: winter car sales!

For car dealers, the end of the year is a time to clean inventory, meet sales projections, and start the new year off strong. And everyone loves a good sale, especially at the end of the year. While most car brands hold winter car sales, no one does it quite like Toyota and Honda.

Unlike other (boring) car brands, Toyota’s Toyotathon and Honda’s Happy Honda Days are not just any other winter sales events, they are true American holidays. These events have a long history; Toyotathon started in 1969 as a 36 hour event at a Butler Toyota Dealership, while Happy Honda Days stretches farther than Google can measure. Throughout the years, these two events have even become memes, with plenty of new jokes and parodies coming out on Twitter every year.

Though the focus has always been more on the event itself, we still took some time to review the two brand’s campaigns this year.


The Toyotathon tradition has been threatened this year. Up until Thanksgiving, there was no official word if Toyotathon was canceled and the Thousand Oaks Toyota was the only dealership promoting the event... the uncertainty was killer! (Though, to be honest I actually have no idea when Toyotathon usually starts.) Nonetheless on November 30th, Toyota released three 60 second ads for Toyotathon. These spots are an emotional campaign centered around love, tugging at heartstrings with a gentle reminder to be grateful.

Super Mom

Super Mom is a shoutout to all the busy moms out there; a realistic depiction of taking care of kids while also working. The mom is also shown to be a medical professional, a nice nod towards the frontline workers fighting the pandemic this year. Overall a great, relatable story.

The Journey

The Journey is a lovely feel-good story that showcases the Toyota Rav-4’s all terrain capabilities: the perfect road trip vehicle. It’s a relatable moment for kids, and hopefully a wake up call for parents to spend a little more time with them.


Mailbox is an emotional story showcasing Toyotas in action, helping people get to where they need to go. It showcases two more Toyotas, the Highlander and the Tacoma, diversifying the commercials line-up The commercial also serves as a shoutout to veterans.

Overall, Toyota really seems to have taken a page from Apple’s book. Each ad is an emotional story centered around humans, with Toyotas acting as a medium. We can probably expect to see them a lot more on Youtube or TV in the following weeks too; I’m already getting bombarded with the same ads over again. Each ad is centered around the holiday season, but none acknowledge Toyotathon at all. It’s great storytelling from Toyota nevertheless, and I hope they continue capturing these timeless stories.

Happy Honda Days

Happy Honda Days was released right before Thanksgiving as a series of 30 second clips. While their national promotion of Happy Honda Days is nothing special, in Southern California, Honda continues its Random Acts of Helpfulness campaign in their holiday ads, with their helpful Honda person making a comeback for the winter again. All their shorts are animated, rhyme happy, and full of Christmas spirit.

Twas the Night mimics the old Christmas tale before hopping right into helpful acts. Warms the heart, and showcases how helpful Honda is. This one showcases the Accord.

Happy Honda Days Tradition is a short song listing off more helpful acts they did as per “Happy Honda Days Tradition.” This is gonna be a song that will be stuck in people’s head for a long time. This commercial showcases the CR-V.

Town Near You is another short song listing off more helpful acts. Similar to Happy Honda Days Tradition in format, but it’s an entirely different song. This ad showcases the Civic.

Honda really went in on the helpful acts. Unfortunately due to combining both the helpful acts theme with Happy Honda Days, the variety of commercials is a bit limiting. Additionally, each creative is cut short for the blatant and boring promotion of their vehicles. However, Honda also released Spanish versions of their ads as well, which definitely expands their reach. The commercials are also region targeted - though the content remains mostly similar, other areas have their own version of each ad. Good on Honda’s strategy! I also liked how they talked about Happy Honda Days as an event; it really gives the meme some life.

2020 has been a hard year for the car industry. Between factory closures, economic crises, and the restriction of travel, the future is uncertain for car makers, especially as electric vehicles become more and more prevalent. Brands and dealers have had to adapt, whether that is increasing online presence or offering delivery on cars. It’s nice to see that there is some certainty this year, and car brands are still able to continue traditions and promote their cars. I would love to see more branded winter car sale events from other manufacturers next year! As for Toyota and Honda, these new ads will provide content for another year of winter car sale memes. When Toyotathon and Happy Honda Days become official holidays, which one will you celebrate?