Tim Hortons’ plan for its multi-agency model

Thinking of expanding your agency rosters? Tim Hortons' head of marketing gives you the pros and cons.


When Tammy Sadinsky was made head of marketing for Tim Hortons in Canada last November, she inherited an agency partnership model that had been shifting away from its long-established single-agency history.

Tammy Sadinsky

Tammy Sadinsky

The QSR has a long relationship with agency of record J. Walter Thompson, but in recent years it had started working with Taxi, for example, which created activation-focused work that also drove earned media impressions. More recently, Ogilvy led another PR/activation campaign to announce the coffee shop’s new latte product.

This has not pushed J. Walter Thompson to the fringes by any means (it is still overseeing national marketing work for big brand pillars), but it’s clear the coffee chain has committed to doing things differently.

Sadinsky sees this multi-agency operation in terms of its pros and cons and knows how she wants it to change.

“The good side is always bringing new thinking to the table, and you’re always making your other agencies better because they don’t become complacent,” she says. “I think JWT and Tims both needed a bit of a wake-up on that.

“I would say, though, that the downside is you lose consistency. You start to work with your agency partners transactional-y, as opposed to strategically.”

The trick, she says, is to move past this transaction-based relationship, and she’s relying on her experience with another large marketing organization in the U.S. to guide her.

“I worked for General Mills in the U.S. for many years and one of the things they did very well was they named one agency an agency navigator. The navigator was in charge of the strategy, and the other expert agencies, like PR or digital, would all be around the table. I found that model was very successful.

“That’s where I would like to get to, where I’ve got great thought partners at the top that are co-creating work, ensuring that briefs are inspirational and that we’re getting the best work. Then I’d like to make sure I have the best of the best from an integrated standpoint under that.”