Contest Winner Lands Dream Dorm at Michigan State

Summertime 'dorm improvement' essay contest connects with students.

October 15, 2013

A fifty-yard roll of duct tape: $7.79.

Two packs of 50-foot light strands: $23.68.

Winning the Spartan Room Makeover Contest: Priceless.

Matthew Oatten earned top honors in the third annual contest sponsored by $2.5 billion asset Michigan State University Federal Credit Union in East Lansing. The Saginaw resident’s winning essay about how he’d transform his room with just $100 hit home with the judges from the marketing department, who enjoyed his wit and creativity.

Oatten envisioned attaching his favorite movie quotes and friends’ photos to the wall with the duct tape, and turning every day into Christmas with the lights. He also eyeballed a nine-cube storage unit to house prized possessions—such as his fourth-grade basketball trophy.

In a display of bravado, he promised to leave his one unspent penny heads-up in a Walmart parking lot “so that someone can pick it up and be lucky like I was when I won this contest.”

Make that really lucky: The grand prize includes a $250 deposit in Oatten’s account at Michigan State University Federal, an iPad, and a $250 gift certificate to Bed Bath & Beyond. He’ll also receive a futon, minifridge, microwave, closet organizer, and Spartans gear.

The contest has been a hit for Michigan State University Federal, which drew 31 entrants this year. The credit union generated buzz among the elusive Generation Y audience by marketing the contest through direct mail, inserts in new-student packs, social media, and personal finance blog posts by student interns on its Financial 4.0 microsite.

With students settling in at Michigan State this fall, “we want to keep Michigan State University Federal on their minds,” says Christina Minnis, vice president of marketing at the credit union. “A contest like this shows our strong bond with MSU.”

Michigan State University Federal engages heavily with the student population of 49,000. Students can attend free budgeting and credit seminars throughout the year, and the credit union partners with the university on a twice-annual Professional Prep Dinner where students learn interviewing skills while enjoying a meal.