Knitting up some holiday cheer

Tim Horton Children's Foundation "yarn-bombed" its travelling truck as it sends #WarmWishes to disadvantaged kids.

Tim Hortons is focusing on doing good this holiday season, and to kick off its campaign, it did a winter-focused stunt that shows one of those good deeds in action.

On Monday, just outside Toronto’s David Pecaut Square, the TimsRunner – essentially a food truck serving free Tim’s coffee that was first deployed in June – was “yarn bombed” with more than 215,000 yards of yarn knitted into a festive holiday “sweater” by a team from a local knitting store, Lettuce Knit. Now that the event is complete, the sweater will be washed and repurposed into approximately 30 blankets to be donated to a local shelter.

Even though the sweater is gone, the TimsRunner is still decked out in a holiday decor and will travel around the GTA throughout the holidays to promote the restaurant’s “#WarmWishes” holiday campaign benefiting the Tim Horton Children’s Foundation. Every time someone uses the #WarmWishes hashtag to share a good deed on Twitter or Instagram, Tim Hortons will donate a toque to an underprivileged child, with a goal of reaching 10,000 hats before the end of the year.

The campaign will largely be promoted through social and in-store, where this year’s holiday cup design not only features the hashtag but also a knit holiday sweater in a range of colours and patterns. Pigeon designed the holiday cups, with OgilvyOne handling the digital and social elements of the campaign and SDI Marketing handling the TimsRunner acitivations through the holiday season.

David Newnham, VP and executive director of Tim Horton Children’s Foundation, says when the restaurant saw how much attention its holiday cup designs got in previous years, the brand also saw an opportunity to provide further support to the work the foundation does.

“Guests would often post photos of themselves with the holiday cup anyway,” he says. “Putting a hashtag on it gives everyone a chance to gather and support disadvantaged kids.”

While many non-profits roll out their biggest campaigns around the holidays to take advantage of the giving spirit, the biggest effort from the Tim Horton Children’s Foundation comes in the summer around camp day. But between the giving boxes at restaurant locations, the ability to give Children’s Foundation donations as a gift and the upcoming GivingTuesday initiative it first partnered on last year, the foundation finds ways to support those kids in ways that go beyond summer camp, with #WarmWishes serving as a way to do it as part of the holiday spirit.

“It’s more about getting into the spirit of the holidays as opposed to generating funds for the foundation, although we will continue to do that,” Newnham says. “This time of year, people are shoveling each other’s driveways or buying coffee for someone behind them in line. We thought this was nice opportunity to partner that with the work we do.”