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Tim Hortons Hero Cup

Have You Told Your Customers That You Love Them Lately?

If you haven’t heard already, Tim Hortons released limited-edition Hero Cups with names of essential workers printed on them as a way of showing gratitude to the workers who put themselves at risk of COVID-19.

At Drive, we can attest to the necessity of coffee for getting through a busy workday... okay, maybe just any day. We can quit anytime we want, we really can.

As humans, we like this campaign a lot. As a brand studio, we think it makes a great case study.

Coffee is a staple for blue-collar/industry workers, which make up the majority of essential businesses. Since coffee is the answer to many problems that come up throughout the day, Timmy Ho’s (as our northern friends call it) was able to capitalize on practicing empathy with these cups.

In our post, Building Consumer Trust in 2020, we talked about the principles consumers appreciate when making purchasing decisions. Criteo’s Why We Buy study found that, in addition to trustworthiness and honesty, 35% of consumers are more likely to support a business that demonstrates similar values to theirs. On top of that, one in six consumers will stop purchasing from a business that doesn’t demonstrate good values.

By celebrating hardworking people, Tim Hortons is showcasing what they hold valuable in a meaningful and personal way. Not only does this campaign position them as trustworthy and loyal, they are seen as a more human company. Brands strive for that effect, now more than ever.

Here is a list of some other marketing best practices this campaign demonstrated:

  • Creating a sense of scarcity: By releasing these cups for a limited time, essential workers and their loved ones will be eager to buy them before they’re gone.
  • Invoking positive associations: This one speaks for itself. Tim Hortons took the time to celebrate a hardworking and devoted group of people who also happen to support their business.
  • Utilizing a bandwagon effect: Similar to the Share a Coke campaign, Tim Hortons was able to make buying a cup of coffee an opportunity to celebrate others, making their customers feel good. Customers will want a cup with their name or their loved one’s name.


So long story short, we think Tim Hortons nailed this campaign, and that’s why we’re giving it five out of five espresso shots. (We don’t actually rate things here, this is just a tactic to enable more coffee-based quips.)

Three takeaways:

  1. Look at how your employees are feeling. Even if your business isn’t designated as “essential,” your employees certainly are essential to your business and its success. How would they like to be appreciated? Can that appreciation reach your customers?
  2. Be genuine and don’t try so hard. Sometimes the best answer is the simplest one. Tim Hortons is saying “Thank you.” Coca-Cola wants you to “share.” What’s the basic message that you want to send?
  3. It’s not about you. Yes, you gotta earn a profit to keep your business and your employees afloat, but goodwill and community are the bywords of 2020. Appreciate the heroes of your community and your community will never let you down.

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