Tim Hortons roasts itself to get people to try the new Dark Roast

The QSR takes a blunt approach as it continues a strategy of improving the quality of its core offering.

Screen Shot 2021-01-12 at 10.58.54 AM

Tim Hortons really wants to make one thing clear about its new Dark Roast brew: the third time’s the charm.

In a new campaign that launched Monday, the coffee chain pokes fun at its prior two attempts and promises a bolder, richer cup of Dark Roast. Tims admits to skeptical customers that, yes, this is its third try, as they taste test the prior offerings and give an honest assessment – before trying the new version and praising it.

The humble approach was important, says Solange Bernard, head of marketing communications at Tim Hortons, because the company has committed to improvement across the brand.

“We recognize that we didn’t quite hit the mark in previous attempts at our Dark Roast launch in 2014, or even with our re-launch in 2017,” she says. “We’re acknowledging we’ve made some missteps but we’re now really focused on improving the taste and quality of all our products – one by one.”

The new Dark Roast is the result of development of “about four dozen variations of the blend over the past year,” according to a release, and it was a response to customer demand for a stronger flavour.

“We worked hard on adjusting our roast settings by increasing the time, weight concentration and temperature in the roaster to really dial in the flavour profile we thought guests would love,” said Kevin West, head of coffee operations, in the release. “The amount of work that went into developing this new Dark Roast was really incredible.”

Bernard says the new campaign is meant to “put us to the test.” While it is trying to maintain the appeal among current Dark Roast drinkers, she adds that a goal is to increase appeal and trial among those who don’t normally drink it.

Tim Hortons faced substantial challenges in 2020 as the pandemic disrupted breakfast routines and shuttered dining rooms, hitting the business hard as a result. In the third quarter, comparable sales fell 12.5 per cent globally, an even more substantial slide over the previous year’s decline of 1.4 per cent.

Bernard says this re-relaunch is part of a two-pronged strategy the brand has planned to improve business in 2021, building upon a back-to-basics approach that Tim Hortons has been following for several years.

The approach “includes innovating and elevating our core categories and modernizing our brand,” she says, with the Dark Roast campaign representing an opportunity to elevate coffee, what the chain is ultimately best known for. But the chain doesn’t plan to stop there.

“You’ll see over the course of the year how we’ll be rolling out improvement after improvement right across our menu,” adds Bernard.

Gut and The French Shop handled the creative for the campaign, which will run on social media, TV, digital, radio and OOH in English and French. Horizon is the media agency.