Tim Hortons celebrates diversity for the holidays

Who: Tim Hortons, with Gut Miami for creative. Directed by Goh Iromoto for Steam Films.

What: “Snowpeople,” a new 60-second holiday ad that celebrates Canada’s diversity and inclusion.

When & Where: The ad debuted today (Dec. 9), running on TV, online and through social media.

Why: At the end of a difficult year, Tim Hortons chose to celebrate Canada’s reputation for diversity, while showing families spending cherished time together and enjoying simple moments.

How: With just one blink-and-you-miss-it shot of a Tims coffee cup, and not a donut or drive-thru in sight, Gut simply presents the changing face of Canadiana—a Tim Hortons approach that dates back at least 14 years, to the 2006 Olympics and a Chinese-Canadian hockey family.

The entire ad consists of a series of families of different colours and abilities, making snowpeople that represent their background: in wheelchairs, wearing dupattas, kilts, bangles, head scarves and headdresses. It opens and closes on a basic “Canadian” snowman (wooly scarf and a hat) with a COVID-appropriate facemask. The ad is soundtracked by a melancholic rendition of “Auld Lang Syne.”

“As a Canadian born of Japanese descent, it’s an honour to work on such an impactful campaign celebrating the different cultures, diverse backgrounds and inclusivity that runs deep throughout the veins of so many Canadians,” says Iromoto. “What makes this ad spot so special, is that it goes beyond ultimately connecting us to our common humanity.”

The ad closes with a super that delivers a gentle reminder of the importance of equality and inclusion: “We’re all made of the same snow.”

About Gut: Yeah Gut is based in Miami, but it is hiring staff in Toronto. Tim Hortons has been working with the agency for a couple of years now, and its ties go back through parent company Restaurant Brands International and Gut’s founders at their previous agency, David—which did a lot of breakthrough work for Burger King. In March, RBI brand Popeye’s moved all of its creative work to Gut.

Keeping it real: Tim Hortons also leaned on its “True Stories” approach of recreating actual stories and anecdotes submitted by customers. In this case, people were asked to submit their ideas for snowpeople representing their “history, heritage, culture and inclusivity.” Twenty-one designs were chosen, with Tim Hortons also creating a special landing page for pictures of the various snowpeople and an explanation of each submission.

And we quote: “When we set out on a journey to explore special moments in the lives of Canadian families, we thought the best way to do so was by hearing from them directly. The snowpeople submissions we received were incredibly powerful and showcased just how important it is for everyone to appreciate moments that bring us together.” — Hope Bagozzi, chief marketing officer of Tim Hortons (Tim Hortons declined an interview request)


David Brown