Tim Hortons increases its push behind Camp Day

The QSR uses its "True Stories" platform to drive more awareness of the skills kids learn when they go to camp.

Today is Camp Day, Tim Hortons’ annual CSR push to raise funds for programs that send young people from low-income homes to camp. But this year, the QSR has increased its marketing efforts behind it to make the idea of sending kids to camp more meaningful for its customers.

The latest video in Tim Hortons’ “True Stories” platform centres on Shelagh, who tells a story about how her years at Tim Hortons Foundation Camps helped give her the skills to get her through one of the toughest times of her life.

While Tim Hortons could not provide specific spending figures, this year’s push is bigger than ones it has done in past years. In addition to the online video, the campaign also includes out-of-home, TV spots, radio, social and digital creative, as well as in-restaurant signage. A PR push today will also have Shelagh and Nicole, another camper, talking to media about their experiences at camp and how it helped get them where they are today.

Jana Goodbaum, integrated marketing communications lead for Tim Hortons in Canada, says that research ahead of this year’s campaign revealed that Canadians were well aware of Camp Day and how Tim Hortons supports kids. However, the message of what the camp actually is, the skills it teaches kids and the benefits of going “was not getting through.”

So, while the QSR once again ran some more tactical creative in the days leading up to Camp Day – reminding consumers that they could support the initiative by buying coffee or a friendship bracelet – that was preceded by a three week-long push centred on Tim Hortons Foundation Camps and the actual experiences of people like Shelagh who attended them.

Since relaunching in the fall, the “True Stories” platform has been used to zero-in on a number of specific elements of the Tim Hortons brand, from its support of youth hockey to the annual Roll Up The Rim contest. Goodbaum says the platform has been effective in reflecting consumers’ values through the stories of people who are just like them, which is part of why the format was used to create a more meaningful connection with Camp Day.

“The people at head office and the Foundation and our team members, we’ve had the benefit of hearing all the stories coming out of camp,” Goodbaum says. “Our guests haven’t. We wanted to make sure our guests are hearing these true stories of campers like Shelagh and Nicole, because their life journeys and success coming out of Camp is the power of the Foundation. And no ad could do as good a job telling their stories as they can.”

Zulu Alpha Kilo led on creative for the campaign, with 500 Degrees leading in-restaurant efforts and North on PR.