Tims admits prior coffee missteps in campaign promoting new dark roast

Who: Tim Hortons and Gut/The French Shop. Horizon for media.

What: “The boldest dark roast comeback ever,” a campaign promoting the coffee chain’s revamped dark roast product.

When & Where: The campaign launched today (Jan. 11) running across TV, social, digital, radio and out-of-home.

Why: Tim Hortons first introduced a dark roast product in 2014, replaced that with a new blend in 2017, and is now introducing yet another dark roast. Rather than ignore the fact this is its third attempt in six years, it is embracing its earlier dark roast missteps to generate trial of the new product among consumers who might be unsure this new stronger blend is for them.

Solange Bernard, Tims’ VP, head of marketing communications, said that the campaign aligns with the company’s 2021 marketing plan calling for a “very strong marketing strategy that brings our brand back to the basics and represents the best of Tim Hortons.” The dark roast launch, she said, is part of the company’s stated strategy of “innovating and elevating” its core categories and modernizing its brand.

How: The anchor TV/video spot features on-the-street taste tests with Tim Hortons customers—each identified as a “dark roast skeptic.” They try previous dark roast attempts and the new blend, providing their opinion of each. The ad is notable for candidly acknowledging that Tims didn’t get the dark roast product right on its first two attempts.

The customers—who are identified as “unscripted people, not actors”—describe the previous blends as “watery, with a bitter aftertaste” and note “they just lost out on that year altogether.” The new blend, though? “You definitely nailed it this time,” says one.

“We felt it was very important to acknowledge what our guests have been saying and act on it—that they wanted a dark roast blend that is even stronger and bolder than ever before,” said Bernard. “We took the humble approach because as a brand, we’re committed to providing our guests with the best tasting coffee, breakfast items and baked goods in Canada.”

And we quote: “We believe our dark roast campaign will ignite interest in putting us to the test. We want to encourage guests to give it a try, even if a dark roast isn’t usually for them. —Solange Bernard, VP, head of marketing communications, Tim Hortons


Chris Powell