Covid-19 forces big Roll up the Win changes for Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons’ plan to fundamentally revamp its Roll Up The Rim promotion to be more digital and emphasize sustainability is facing a major setback because of coronavirus.

The company announced Friday morning that it will stop accepting reusable cups. “Though health officials have not recommended any changes to current procedures, after listening to our restaurant owners and comments from our guests, we are going to pause on accepting reusable cups at this time,” it said in a statement.

Encouraging customers to use personal cups was a key component to Roll up the Rim for 2020, a change that was announced in mid February. Tim Hortons was planning to give away 1.8 million reusable cups on March 10, a day ahead of the program’s launch, and any customer using a reusable cup would get three chances to win in the new, more digital version of the long-running promotion.

Sustainability was a key component of the new campaign, though it also seemed designed to drive customers to register with the Tim Hortons loyalty program.

New advertising already in market emphasized the program’s more digital nature, though the benefits of using a reusable cup was also a prominent message.

In its statement, Tim Hortons said that it would delay the distribution of the reusable cups, and it will have to move quickly to adapt most of its marketing and promotional activity for Roll up the Rim. Tim Hortons declined to comment about the impact on its marketing plans for Roll up the Rim, though it seems clear that major changes will be in order.

The press release acknowledges that reusability was a key focus to the entire plan. “New to this year’s Roll Up the Rim contest was a strong push on sustainability and reusability,” it said. “All of our marketing materials and contest details have highlighted this new component.”

Tim Hortons isn’t the first coffee company to take such action amidst growing fears about the spread of coronavirus. Both Starbucks and Second Cup have taken similar action to stop serving into reusable cups.

And in other moves that reflect the growing impact of coronavirus, the Toronto-based technology conference Collision scheduled for June has been cancelled, though organizers said much of the programming will be delivered online. “Given the uncertainty facing a large number of public events around the world due to the progression of Covid-19, we have made the very difficult decision to postpone Collision from taking place physically until June 2021,” said a statement.



David Brown