The Power of a Story – Tim Hortons Advertising

Posted by | February 24, 2010 | Just Business, Marketing | 24 Comments
A winning Tim Hortons Roll up the Rim to Win cup

Tim Hortons

All around Canada people are wearing their red mitts and red hats glowing with National Pride. With the 2010 Winter Olympics underway, Canadians of all walks of life are showing their patriotic side. Tim Hortons, Canadas biggest Coffee and Bakery chain is one of Canadas greatest brands. Tim Hortons is known for its Hockey oriented commercials but has recently begun to implement advertising that shows Canadas diversity while showing the importance of family.

The most recent commercial from Tim Hortons shows an African man preparing for the arrival of his wife and two kids. After a touching moment at the airport we realize  that the man and his family have been separated for some time. As this scene comes to an end he hands his wife a cup of Tim Hortons Coffee and gives her and the kids some winter coats. Ultimately, the story is told to perfection – Here is the 90 second spot…

The Art of Storytelling

A Main Character

While this may seem a bit elementary to some, its an element that is often overlooked in advertisements trying to tell a story.  You have 30-140 seconds to make the viewers connect with the characters; its difficult to get them to connect with one – Why try two? In this Advertisement we are immediately introduced to the Husband/Father and after watching him we establish a connection. Once this connection is made our emotions are in the hands of the storyteller.

Emotional Appeal

This advertisement does a great job at triggering emotions. From the response I seen on twitter and from the comments on YouTube, I’m sure some of you are probably in tears right now. Whether you can relate to the story or if you simply are touched by it, the story is powerful. There are eight basic universal emotions that a story can trigger; joy, surprise, acceptance, fear, anger, sadness, disgust, anticipation and anger. A story that is able to trigger any of these emotions has a strong possibility of being remembered as our emotions are directly related to chemicals in the brain.

A Climax Worth Waiting For

Sometimes Advertisers leave us expecting a big bang that they never deliver on. An advertisement that is able to take the short amount of time and tell a story and get across its message effectively is a story worth telling. The suspense builds up at the beginning of the ad when he purchases the jackets and then the coffee – The climax is when the doors open and he sees his family. This moment, is  what the audience was waiting for. Andresult its the most memorable part of the Ad.

Not a Story For Everyone

This Story wont resonate with everyone. But that’s the point. As soon as you start trying to be all things for all people you begin to slide more towards mediocrity than anything. The Story begins to be boring and we wonder whether or not we’ve heard it before. The story that Tim Hortons is telling with this Advertising is one that will resonate with people who appreciate the value of family and multiculturalism in Canada.

While Tim Hortons told a Great Story. Some would argue that any coffee shop could run this Ad effectively and trigger emotions. While I agree that any coffee shop could have replaced Tim Hortons in the Ad and triggered emotions; I don’t think that the story would be resonate as well. Seeing that Tim Hortons is one of Canadas most recognized brands; it has a long history with Canadian culture. Tim Hortons is also known for  positioning themselves as being a part of the family. For this reason, they can run this Ad in Canada better than any other coffee chain.

Whats your thoughts on the Ad? Did it resonate – Do you think Starbucks could do it?

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