Tim Hortons: The Grassroots Champion



Canadians consider Tim Hortons a definitive Canadian brand, with values they can relate to, such as inclusiveness, honesty and approachability. The brand’s social strategy is a reflection of these values. Since Tim’s opened its first store in 1964, giving back to the community has been a personal and business philosophy for the brand’s founders.


Tim Hortons has an impact on communities because of its impact on individual children, and families. Its three key initiatives are:

1. Camp Day/Tim Horton Children’s Foundation

One day each year, Canadian and U.S. store owners donate every penny raised from coffee sales to the foundation. Consumers are encouraged to buy coffee and help send kids from disadvantaged homes on the camping adventure of a lifetime. Store owners work in conjunction with schools, clubs and youth agencies to identify the children.

Started in 1997, the Youth Leadership Program invites selected past participants back to camp to enhance personal leadership skills. After the program, they are eligible for bursaries towards their college or university education.

Marketing: Camp Day is supported with a fully integrated ad campaign that features TV, radio, magazine, Internet, OOH, POP, in-store digital menu boards and PR. It’s built around the idea that buying a coffee can be the start of making a change in a child’s life.

Results: In 2006, with a record $7.2 million raised, over 11,000 kids were sent to camp. Since 1974, over 83,000 children from across Canada and the U.S. have experienced camp.

2. Timbits Hockey

Tim Hortons began sponsoring hockey over 20 years ago. Timbits Hockey helps players four to eight learn hockey skills in a fun,

non-competitive environment. The brand works with local hockey associations enabling store owners to support the players in their own community. Currently, Tim Hortons supports more than 850 minor hockey associations across the country.

Marketing: The program is supported through TV, radio and POP. The advertising is rooted in the notion that community hockey should be played for fun. It’s brought to life with the promise ‘Timbits Hockey – The First Goal is Having Fun.’

Recently, Sidney Crosby was introduced into theTimbits Hockey ads. Crosby, a Timbits Hockey player in 1993, demonstrates Tim Hortons’ ongoing commitment to the program.

Results: Participation continues to grow. Currently 66,000 kids play Timbits Hockey.

3. Community-based initiatives

Tim Hortons supports causes and activities on a community basis. These initiatives are determined by local store owner groups based on the individual needs of the unique community. Of note:

Free Swim and Skate Program: Free pool and rink times are sponsored across Canada.

Community Clean-Up:

Tim Hortons is an official sponsor of 220 community clean-up events across Canada as part of Earth Day.

Halloween Safety Program

More than 2.4 million reflective Tim Hortons Halloween ‘Treat Bags’ are distributed in October. The bags help children to be seen after dark while trick-or-treating.

Smile Cookie Program:

Through sales of cookies $1,174,000 was raised in 2006 to support different community initiatives.

Earn-a-Bike Program

Children team up with community partners to help clean up their neighbourhoods. Those who complete 30 hours of community service are rewarded with a new bike.

Tim Hortons has done an outstanding job focusing advertising and branding on the key initiatives supporting the community, with the secondary message around product. Everyone knows what Tim Hortons stands for in the community.
Glenda Hummel, SVP, Scotiabank