The Really Brief — Week of December 2

December 5

Tim Hortons will start expanding its experimental “innovation café” concept in Toronto, according to a report by Yahoo Finance. Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Global Consumer and Retail Conference this week, Restaurants Brands International’s chief executive Jose Cil said the company is “looking at a couple of super urban locations in Toronto” that will be like the store it opened in downtown Toronto earlier this year.

“I’ve seen them under construction and I know that they’ll be ready to start selling really soon and they’ll have a similar offering and a similar image—kind of an evolved image—from what we see in the Innovation Café,” said Cil. Tim Hortons spokesperson Sarah McConnell told Yahoo that “the first Tim Hortons Urban Format restaurant is opening in Toronto later this month.”

December 4

Empire is rolling out sensory friendly shopping hours at more than 450 stores across Canada, including the Sobeys, Safeway, IGA, Thrify Foods, Foodland and FreshCo banners. Each store will set a time each week where lights will be dimmed and music, PA announcements and cash register sounds will be turned off to help families with kids living with sensory challenges do their grocery shopping.

The initiative is a truly grassroots one, started by the manager at one PEI store and spreading across Atlantic Canada. “The grocery store is a central hub of the community. We pride ourselves on creating an inclusive environment that reflects our diverse customer base and the communities where we work,” said Heather DeBlois, director of diversity and inclusion, Sobeys.

December 3

As part of its ongoing promotion for the revamped Big Mac, McDonald’s Canada recently installed a see-through restaurant at Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square to prove it has nothing to hide when it comes to making its most iconic burger.

Made out of a shipping container, the transparent kitchen featured the message “Have a peek. We have nothing to hide.” McDonald’s crew members served up 1,600 Big Macs during the event, which was developed by Cossette in partnership with experiential marketing firm Prime Marketing, OMD Canada (media) and Weber Shandwick (PR).

Ontario dairy cooperative Gay Lea Foods is bringing its vintage delivery truck to skating rinks, toboggan hills, tree farms and festivals across this month in support of its “24 Days of Cookies” promotion.

The program, which is being run in partnership with the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, will see Gay Lea Foods hand out 1,400 cookies and cartons of milk throughout the month.

December 2

Steve Carli  (centre, above) has joined Toronto creative agency Mackie Biernacki as president, the first for the agency founded by Steph Mackie and Mark Biernacki. Carli spent nine years as president of Red Urban, and before that led the Chicago office of Zig.

“Steve is going to provide the agency management expertise that we’ve been looking for in a partner,” said Mackie in a release. The agency also recently added the creative team of Brenna O’Leary and Ali Forooghi, and is moving into a storefront location in the west end of Toronto.

Juniper Park\TBWA has hired Steve Emmens (centre in pic) as managing director of integrated production, a newly created role that will see the 25-year industry veteran lead all creative production for the agency and its in-house content arm, Bolt. He will work alongside chief creative officer Graham Lang and ECD Jenny Glover.

Emmens’ career includes stops with J. Walter Thompson, BBDO, Leo Burnett, and Cossette. He spent the past eight years with Taxi, as head of integrated production. He has produced notable work for Telus, Canadian Tire, and the re-launch of Mark’s.

He is among 16 new hires at the agency since September, the result of new business wins including EPM Pharmaceuticals (for the launch of their synthetic cannabinoid IP platform in North America), as well as the North American launch of Major League Socks.

Church’s Chicken Canada is rebranding as Church’s Texas Chicken, a move it says better reflects its heritage. The rebrand includes a new brand positioning and logo, as well as changes to the restaurant design, uniforms and packaging.

“We’re a challenger brand, so we have to work smarter at engaging consumers and staying fresh, exciting and relevant, yet embrace change to compete and win against an ever-growing tide of international and local competitors,” said Tony Moralejo, executive vice-president of international for Church’s.

Church’s also announced plans to open five new Canadian restaurants in the GTA this year, with more following in 2020. Church’s was established in San Antonio in 1952, opening its first Canadian restaurant in Vancouver in 1972.

A&W Canada has partnered with Greenleaf Foods’ plant-based protein brand, Lightlife, to introduce Plant Based Nuggets at restaurants in Ontario and British Columbia. The nuggets, which are made from plant-based ingredients like peas, wheat and fava beans, are being sold in units of six and 10. They are also available in a Kid’s Pack meal.



Chris Powell