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Business - Written by on Wednesday, November 19, 2008 18:36 - 3 Comments

“Every Cup Tells A Story” = Every Story Sells A Cup

You can imagine that, as a fanatical Tim Hortons coffee drinker (coffee runs through my veins), I have consumed A LOT of cups of Timmies coffee. In fact, I consume two large cups every day, come rain, snow, or high water, and every cup represents a different series of moments and memories from that particular day. This is the basis for Tim Hortons’ first foray into social media, “Every Cup Tells A Story”, launched from the website everycup.ca and which provides participants with a Web 2.0 community space to read, share, and reminisce about memorable stories that were chaperoned by a watchful cup of Tim Hortons coffee.

Visitors to the website are provided with a simple and user friendly interface (helpful given that Tim Hortons customers range broadly in demographic and technical familiarity) that allows you to browse through, and vote on, other people’s pictures and stories, and which can be tagged and sorted by category. Anyone who wants to can participate, and in this case, the maximum size of the “available content pool” is large, because it turns out that … a lot of people drink coffee, and many people do interesting things while drinking coffee! Additionally, it’s likely that anyone creating an (indirect) messaged tied to Tim Hortons, is likely to share a positive message about the company (e.g. positive message about  due to the nature of the website, meaning that

There’s your website content. Think of website content like a product, with key variables being cost, availability, production, re-supply logistics, etc. Websites with poor content and a poor business model for developing and sourcing affordable new content, do not succeed, just like bad products.

It can be difficult to influence online behaviour without the right incentives, and one of the most powerful drivers of an individual’s action is that a person is interested in the content, and wants to get involved. Providing social (e.g. reputation) and financial capital are two ways to drive behaviour. Another way to view online behaviour is a a medium where we live out our regular every-day interests, and therefore best satisfying those intrinsic human interests will also drive online behaviour to a website (ignoring for a minute that you can have great content, the right incentive, but poor marketing, resulting in a flop).

Coffee drinking is something that people identify with as a part of their lifestyle (it’s ‘who’ they are), and in addition, many Canadians think of Tim Hortons as the Canadian Aunt Jemima of the coffee world; that is, the Timmies brand is distinctly Canadian, and it feels like your second home – if you didn’t know better you’d think ‘Mom’ made it just for you. She did, right? A byproduct of these strong associated feelings is that people feel a deeper relationship to the campaign’s content, and as a result, are more inclined to investigate the website. Consider also that people have the opportunity to talk about something important to them (their story), and that it’s easy to participate (all you need is a picture and a 1+ paragraph story) and this further facilitates participation, and an active website or community, in turn, fuels more participation.

It’s clear that this type of product AND its specific brand characteristics are well suited for social media. We’ve previously talked about MyStarbucks Idea and Dell’s IdeaStorm as good examples of producer-consumer (‘prosumer’) platforms for innovation; it seems likely that the Tim Hortons style campaign, along with Doritos’ Superbowl Ads and simple Facebook/MySpace-esque fan/group pages, is among the initial wave of online prosumer advertising, where the brand message is in large part shaped by a highly vocal online populace.

What’s interesting is that these social media technologies have typically been levied against a young demographic, but in Tim Hortons’ case, the participants appear largely to be parents who want to share a picture and story about their children. This is perhaps, a reminder that the Web 2.0 rules of engagement do not simply apply to young people – the Internet is increasingly accessed by every segment of the population across every interest; the challenge is, how do you best interact with those people along those lines?

I’d like your thoughts on whether you think this is an effective marketing campaign. What’s the verdict?


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Nov 19, 2008 21:56

Is it effective? You wrote about it. I learned about it. It put the name Tim Horton’s in front of my eyes. It reached me at least, so in my mind, yes, effective!

Wikinomics » Blog Archive » Wikinomics on Ice
Jan 14, 2009 17:31

[...] [sic] on their ‘Every Cup Tells a Story’ campaign [as written about by Jude Fiorillo here], to introduce ‘Stories From the Rink‘). Tags: advertising collaboration marketing [...]

Tim Hortons sips on social media « confessions of a social media newbie
Mar 30, 2009 18:26

[...] such a success? In my opinion, it’s that it is so simple to use. Tim Hortons accounts for 42 per cent of sector traffic in the quick serve restaurant industry in Canada. How many of the 63 per cent of Canadians over [...]

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