The people’s choice for Marketer of the Year

It's that time of year again when members of the marketing profession fall victim to the ravages of a disease which never fails to come around like clockwork - Fall Amnesia.

It’s that time of year again when members of the marketing profession fall victim to the ravages of a disease which never fails to come around like clockwork – Fall Amnesia.

We spend the rest of the year telling the boss that, of course, marketing investments never pay back in the year that they’re spent. And we also never missed an

opportunity to savage the ad industry’s addiction to awards shows – such vanity!

But all that is conveniently forgotten when the strategy Marketer of the Year awards roll around. Absolutely right that our efforts should be recognized! We’ve been working like dogs battling the forces of darkness in the Finance Department; listening to our agencies bleat on about their diminishing fees; having the sales team ridicule our latest flash-bang idea. We deserve this, dammit!

Now, given the deadlines impressed on me, I have no idea who is on the shortlist or actually won. But if I were the judge, there’s no doubt in my mind who I would give it to: Tim Hortons. In fact, I would give it to them every year.

I love the little things they have done this year. Did you notice they have a new cup design? Given that something like a billion of these things end up in their customers’ hands every year, it’s pretty important not to mess it up. I think their new design is an excellent evolution – the 40 years theme is better than what went before, and I think enhances the brand values.

I also like their recent product innovation, especially the new Toffee Glaze doughnut. It seems to me to be aimed squarely at Krispy Kreme, and is certainly good enough to make the inconvenience of tracking down a KK outlet not worth the bother.

Now, one thing that really bugs me about the Tim Hortons phenomenon is the creative community’s predilection for dissing their advertising. The arrogance that, with more ‘creative’ communication, this would

be an even stronger brand leaves me

almost speechless.

I find myself wondering why the trendy set are so keen to lay into them. Jealousy? Doubt it. Insecurity – seeing that truly great brands can be built without troubling the Cannes judges? More likely. Or maybe it’s something more prosaic. Maybe it’s because Tim’s is more of a suburban phenomenon, and that inhabitants of the trendier parts of town just don’t realize how big a part of most people’s lives this brand is.

Either way, I don’t expect that the guardians of this national icon here in my home town of Oakville (another black mark!) spend any time pondering the question; they are too busy making the brand more valuable, year in year out.

Tim Hortons is without a doubt the strongest brand in the country. The hockey lockout is supposedly traumatizing the nation. Really? I hadn’t noticed. But imagine if every Tim Hortons in the country closed for a year: The lives of most Canadians would be majorly dislocated. Millions would take to the streets in protest. We would lose our natural diffidence and come close to revolution. Not because we were missing their ads, but because we were missing an integral part of our lives – and that is the mark of a great brand. One that got even stronger this year.

Twenty-plus years of marketing was enough for John Bradley; he left to do other things which interest him. He doesn’t write this column to pitch for work, but is just trying to help the next generation of marketers simplify an overly complex profession. He values and responds to feedback at