Tim Hortons tells a ‘true story’ about Roll Up the Rim

The second ad of the QSR's recently relaunched platform adds an emotional element to its annual winter promotion.
Tim Hortons

This year, when Tim Hortons launches Roll Up The Rim in February, the annual winter promotion will be receiving the emotional backing of the chain’s recently re-launched “True Stories” platform.

The new ad is the second of six planned for the “True Stories” platform, representing Tim Hortons’ largest investment in brand marketing since the company was acquired by Restaurant Brands International in 2014. But whereas the first ad unveiled in November reintroduced the “True Stories” concept to Canadians with creative that took a more factual approach than in the past, the second ad ties directly into a major promotional event for the brand.

Called “Please Play Again,” the commercial tells the story of Rahul Saxena, a resident of Toronto who needed a way to motivate his son’s hockey team during the end of the playoffs season. Having unrolled his Timmies’ cup to find the words “Please play again,” Saxena realizes that the message is exactly the kind that his child’s team needs to hear. Motivated by the losing cup’s inspirational message, the team goes on to win several games, including the championship.

Much like November’s “Little Man with a Big Heart,” the new TV commercial is apparently more factual than previous “True Stories,” which took more creative license with the stories’ narratives. The new ad blends re-enactment with voice-over and an actual interview with Saxena in a Tim’s restaurant.

The revitalized format and the latest campaign were developed by Gut Miami, a global agency co-founded by the founders of David, which does a lot of the work for RBI’s Burger King brand. Its return has been spearheaded by Tim’s new global creative head Paloma Azulay, who saw an opportunity to refresh the “True Stories” website and leverage the more than 18,000 stories that have been published there by customers since 2008.

“Please Play Again” gives more emotional heft to the QSR’s annual Roll Up the Rim marketing. Last year, the brand found itself falling steeply in a number of brand reputation surveys over an ongoing dispute with franchisees – among a number of other challenges – which led some customers to criticize the Roll Up The Rim program.

This year, it has placed the program within its broader brand-focused efforts, which could drive a more positive sentiment around it. As Azulay previously told strategy, “True Stories” has been deemed a “goldmine” of creative inspiration and of authentic expressions of the “love affair” that Canadians already have with the brand.

The new campaign follows Tim Hortons’ recent move into a new headquarters in downtown Toronto. The space (located on the old TSX trading floor) celebrates the company’s Canadian roots with a branded work environment that includes Tim’s and hockey-inspired wall-decor and signage and 21 coffee stations resembling the chain’s coffee shops.

Alex Macedo, president of Tim Horton’s, says the move was designed to attract top talent to the organization and retain it. At the unveiling earlier this month, he told strategy the move has placed the executive closer to its agency partners (including Zulu Alpha Kilo) and facilitated greater collaboration among employees, which are part of its wider plans to make marked brand improvements over the year ahead.