Strategy’s Most Read of 2019: Brands

The campaigns and brand-side news that got the most attention from strategy readers this year.


Tim Hortons

This week, strategy is counting down the most-read stories from all our areas of coverage over the past year. Today, we are looking at the brand news and campaigns that earned the most attention from readers in 2019. Be sure to also read up on strategy’s top agency storiesaccount wins, and news from the Shopper Marketing Report and C-Suite newsletters.

This story first appeared in the Nov./Dec. 2019 issue of strategy.

Tim Hortons rolls up the effort


The “Roll Up The Rim” contest might not have had the returns Tim Hortons was hoping for this year, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. One month before the 2019 edition of the contest, Tim Hortons released a new ad in its “True Stories” platform, which dramatizes the impact the QSR has had on Canadian lives and their communities. In the spot, a father uses the “please play again” message from under coffee cup rims to motivate his son’s hockey team. Then, when the contest began, the QSR launched a campaign more in line with the spirit of “Roll Up The Rim,” showing the intense training rituals diehard competitors adopt each year. It represented an increased above-the-line marketing presence for
“Roll Up The Rim” – but nonetheless ended in a second lackluster year that was blamed for a 0.6% drop in same-store sales in the QSR’s Q1 results.

Air Canada sets course for loyalty plans


Air Canada has had a very busy year. It reached a deal to buy leisure airline Transat (though it is still subject to regulatory approval). It launched a new marketing platform featuring Canadian celebrities to promote its brand to international audiences. But what got the most attention was an integrated campaign and contest for Aeroplan – which Air Canada bought back from Aimia in 2018 to form the groundwork for its own, new loyalty program. It might seem like a strange
move to promote a program that’s set to be replaced, but Air Canada’s goal was to keep Aeroplan’s five million members engaged with the program and stick around for the switchover, slated for 2020.

Beyond Meat arrives in the grocery aisle

Beyond Burger_Summer 2018 (2)

For a time, Canada was an oddity among the markets that Beyond Meat had tapped for international expansion. Instead of entering retail like it did stateside, the buzzy plant-based brand pursued partnerships with QSRs in Canada, beginning with A&W in 2018 but expanding to everyone from Tim Hortons to Subway to Mucho Burrito this year. Hype was at its peak in May, when Beyond Meat made its trademark burger available in the meat aisles of Canadian grocery stores. The expansion was a part of the brand’s strategy to appeal to curious meat-eaters rather than vegans. The success at Canadian QSR (and in U.S. retail) helped the company gauge consumer interest and convince grocery retailers to stock the plant-based burgers, Beyond’s VP of marketing Will Schafer told strategy. But the buzz may be calming down – Tim Hortons announced in the fall that it would be removing some Beyond Meat products from its menu in certain markets due to low interest.