Tim Hortons hires new head of marketing strategy

Jason Cassidy joins from Yum Brands to help the QSR with its turnaround plan.
Jason Cassidy

Tim Hortons has made a new addition to its marketing leadership, hiring Jason Cassidy as head of marketing strategy and category management.

In his new role, Cassidy will be in charge of the strategic development of marketing programs in Canada, leading 12 people across the QSR’s category management, calendar lead and consumer insights teams.

“During these unprecedented times, we know Jason will help ensure Canadians from coast to coast to coast feel connected to the values that have made Tim Hortons an iconic brand in this country, as we continue to share the best of Canada with every community we serve,” a spokesperson told strategy in a statement. A similar role at Tim Hortons was previously filled by Markus Sturm, who was promoted to head of finance and retail earlier this year.

Cassidy joins after almost three years at Yum Brands, where he was made director of marketing for KFC Canada in July. Prior to that move, he held a similar role leading marketing for Pizza Hut Canada.

“[Tim Hortons] serves comfort and convenience to more than 4,000 communities. It’s synonymous with Canada and is practically part of our DNA. It’s an iconic brand that touches so many Canadians on a daily basis. It is a turnaround story that I want to be a part of,” Cassidy wrote in a LinkedIn post announcing his move.

Cassidy’s hiring is the second marketing leader Tim Hortons has added to its team this year. In January, Tim Hortons hired Hope Bagozzi – formerly of McDonald’s Canada, where she led the national marketing team – as its new global CMO, replacing Paloma Azulay, who had been moved by Restaurant Brands International into the same role at Popeyes.

Despite its status as an iconic Canadian coffee chain, Tim Hortons has been facing struggles as of late, including slipping sales amid a global expansion, underwhelming returns on its annual Roll Up The Rim contest and disputes with franchisees resulting in hits to its standing with the public. In March, the COVID-19 pandemic brought another reputation hit, as some individual franchise owners were requiring staff to provide a doctor’s note in order to receive paid sick leave.

However, on Tuesday, it was announced that Tim Hortons’ parent company Restaurant Brands International, would not be applying for the federal government’s 75% wage subsidy for its corporate staff, adding that big businesses aren’t the ideal focus for the funding and saying that franchisees, frontline restaurant workers and other small businesses should be the focus of support.