The Advertising Apprentice

March 28, 2010

Can I get a Large Double-Double, Please

Filed under: Advertising — adamlauzon @ 2:20 PM
Tags: , ,

Recently after receiving some positive feedback on this blog, I invited suggestions for entries. One suggestion came courtesy of Gates Imbeau, a classmate of mine at Cambrian College. He thought it would be interesting to read an entry about Tim Hortons advertising, and how, despite efforts from their competitors, they seem to dominate coffee sales in Canada. So as everyone continues to roll up the rim, today we’ll be talking about Tim Hortons and the coffee wars, with a particular focus on their newest, Welcome Home ad.

This spot, which first aired during the Olympics, is such an excellent example of Tim Hortons doing it right! Why? Well because it pulls at your heartstrings, you feel the strong emotion associated with the family reuniting after who knows how long. This ad also does a great job at positioning the brand deeply within the Canadian culture; by essentially saying that Tim Hortons is ingrained in who we are as Canadians. (A statement most Canadians would have a hard time arguing with.) This is particularly true when you see the woman, evidently new to Canada, being offered a large coffee by her husband as he says, “Welcome to Canada”.

(Imagine if that was part of the citizenship ceremony for new Canadians: say the citizenship oath, sing the national anthem, waive the Canadian flag, and have a Tim Hortons coffee!!)

Let’s not forget the tagline seen at the end of the commercial beside the logo, “A coffee all our own”. The tagline effectively reinforces the message of the ad and it’s also an element of the ad that is consistent with all the other parts. (I have spoken to this concept of consistency in previous entries. That’s because from my point of view it’s absolutely essential with all the ad clutter out there that an ad, or a campaign, is consistent all the way through otherwise you lose the effect you should be striving for.)

We’ll have to look at the results closer in the upcoming months but I’m pretty sure that this spot was able to counteract the effects of the McDonald’s commercial offering a free small coffee from March 1st through the 14th of this year. Check out this article from Marketing Magazine to view the McDonald’s ad and get a good synopsis as to why a company as big as McDonald’s feels the need to run this kind of a promotion.

Another competitor of Tims, Country Style, has a similar contest to Roll Up to Win, called Turn Up a Winner. In this contest, they claim that every cup is a winner, compared to the 1 in 9 cups that will win with the Tim Hortons contest. Yet despite the significantly better odds of winning, Tim Hortons seems to continue to dominate in this product class.

What I also like about Tim Horton’s advertising is their versatility. One week we could be seeing an ad about how fresh their coffee is:

The next week you could see an ad filled with as many clichés as the creative team could come up with to put in a 30-second spot (I apologize for the poor video quality):

And finally the next week you could see an ad emphasizing the importance of family with a similar tone as the Welcome Home spot:

While competitors of Tim Hortons try to offer up lucrative incentives to lure consumers away from the coffee giant, Tim Hortons continues to goes about business dominating the Canadian coffee and baked goods market with a 76% share. They’re also doing quite well in the $14 billion Canadian fast food market, owning a 22% stake. (These stats are courtesy of this article from the Toronto Star.)

I’m almost done season one of Mad Men and I have lots of thoughts to share with you about the show. Shortly after Easter I’ll be posting these thoughts.



  1. I always assumed the Welcome Home spot had something to do with the Haiti earthquake, because I can’t remember seeing it before then.

    Comment by Nathan — March 29, 2010 @ 12:57 PM | Reply

  2. In addition to the Tim Hortons Welcome Home spot, there were a handful of other Canadian companies whose ads aired during the Olympics with a particular focus on how Canadian the company is. These other companies include: Molson with their “Made from Canada” spot (discussed in a previous entry), Canadian Tire with an ad entitled “For Days like Today”, Bombardier with “Keep the Distance”, Rona and their “Tape Measure” spot, and finally Air Canada’s “Distance” spot. Of course there is no better timing for an ad that emphasizes Canadian patriotism than the Vancouver Olympics!

    I think it would’ve been way too opportunistic/capitalistic of Tim Hortons, or any company for that matter, to air an ad that soon after the devastating Haitian earthquake that aimed to create a connection with those affected.

    Comment by adamlauzon — March 31, 2010 @ 11:44 AM | Reply

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