Paying It Forward for the Holidays

Tim Hortons started its holiday campaign last month by outfitting its TimsRunner coffee truck in a specially designed wool sweater. Then about a week ago, the Canadian coffee chain outfitted an entire town.

On December 13, residents of Fort Frances, ON, awoke to find red and white yarn strung in trees, along roads and knitted to cover park benches and fire hydrants. It all led to the town’s Tim Hortons location where much of the store was outfitted in wool.

In the cold of the winter months, Tim Hortons is on a mission to spread warmth and holiday cheer through its holiday marketing campaign that includes the hashtag #WarmWishes. Tim Hortons is encouraging guests to use the hashtag to highlight their good deeds and acts of kindness, and for each one, Tim Hortons will donate a knitted wool cap to a child in need through the Tim Horton Children’s Foundation, with a goal of 10,000 hats in total.

As if Tim Hortons wasn’t loved enough by Canadians, the campaign boosts Tim Hortons’ image further because the chain isn’t only asking customers to join in the holiday spirit, but also the company itself is actively participating. Tapping into social media sites Twitter and Instagram has only benefited Tim Hortons in its goal:  More than 11,000 photos on Instagram alone have been branded with the #WarmWishes hashtag.

Tim Hortons is joined by a growing number of restaurants that are hoping to help others during the holidays through various promotions and donation opportunities. And Technomic Canadian Consumer Brand Metrics data shows that Canadian operators with socially responsible practices are more popular with consumers, especially Millennials, even if guests have to shell out more cash at restaurants that have recycling, composting or leftover food donation programs.

Here are a few examples of other operators who are supporting charitable organizations this holiday season:

  • Throughout the month of December, Good Earth Coffeehouse and Bakery will donate $1 from the sale of gingerbread family packages to support Habitat for Humanity’s efforts to provide housing to families in need.
  • On December 19, Hero Certified Burgers donated 10% of every purchase to Mackenzie Health Foundation.
  • Domino’s Pizza is encouraging customers to join the pizza chain in supporting the Canadian Cancer Society. A donation to the organization can be made through Domino’s checkout process.

Operators that provide an opportunity for customers to donate or that donate themselves should remember to highlight their work in the communities they serve to keep them top of mind for customers. These efforts can go a long way in spreading feelings of good cheer among customers, employees and those that benefit from the supported organizations.


Darren Tristano

Darren Tristano is President of Technomic Inc. Since 1993, he has led the development of Technomic’s Information Services division and directed multiple aspects of the firm’s operations.

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