Tim Hortons

Making Canada’s Favourite a UK Phenomenon

In 2017 the world’s largest coffee shop, Canadian institution Tim Hortons, briefed Spider to support its UK launch. In Canada, Tim Hortons is part of the social fabric with eight in ten coffees sold coming from Tim Hortons. In the UK, however, it was known only by expats and Brits who’d visited the Great White North. Our mission was to translate the sentiment towards a Canadian institution for a UK audience. Leveraging the brand-love of the few to excite the many was a crucial part of our strategy, as was building a highly engaged Tim Hortons Social Media community.

A mixture of highly proactive community management, reactive creativity and localised campaigns allowed us to achieve reach and engagement rates far above industry averages, drove in-store sales, and placed Tim Hortons firmly on the map in the extremely crowded QSR sector.

We harnessed the incredible levels of brand love towards Tim Hortons felt by the Canadian expat population in the UK. Launching the Tim Hortons Social Media community with the question “Are You the Biggest Tim Hortons Fan?” we urged expats and Tim Hortons fanatics here to help us educate new consumers and proclaim their Tim Hortons devotion. We built a conversation that newcomers and devotees alike couldn’t get enough of.


Restaurants launched

new community members gained in the first two months


average engagement rate

Tim Hortons Social Media - Spider

The Client

One of the world’s biggest coffee chains, Tim Hortons is a Canadian icon. Go to Canada and you’ll find Tims on every corner, and the chain is very much part of the social fabric of the nation. Almost as much as maple syrup, ice hockey, and politeness. Almost.

Named after its founder, a professional ice hockey player, Tim Hortons is a coffee juggernaut. Canadians are some of the most prolific coffee-drinkers on the planet, and Tims is right at the heart of this obsession. Nearly eight out of 10 cups of coffee sold across Canada are served at Tim Hortons Restaurants, and more than 5.3 million Canadians – approximately 15 per cent of the population – visit the café daily. With their sights set on global domination, Tim Hortons looked to branch out in the UK as its first European venture, and it was our job to deliver them a Tim Hortons Social Media community as loyal and highly engaged as their Canadian fanbase.

They Said

Tim Hortons needed to drive excitement nationally while creating regional loyalty. Driving business in-store through social activity and launch activations was top priority. Tim Hortons was aware of the challenge laid out in front of them – carving out a place for the Canadian brand within a very crowded QSR marketplace. Budgets were limited and all campaigns needed to have clear business-minded objectives and subsequently, results. Tim Hortons Social Media platforms needed to drive mass awareness in the absence of ATL or additional marketing efforts and serve to manage complaints and queries quickly and efficiently.

All 17 of our restaurant openings have seen queues of hundreds of people. Our social channels have seen significant organic reach, growth and engagement and have helped us to achieve outstanding coverage in both local, regional and national media by generating online buzz

Neil Littler, CMO UK and Ireland

Challenge Accepted

Given the pre-existing levels of interest in the brand, supremely proactive Tim Hortons Social Media community management was a must; we left no conversation unanswered and left nobody hanging. This drove organic reach and helped us to smash through industry standards for engagement rates across our channels, maintaining a rate of 7.79% on Facebook and 3.75% on Twitter.

Strategic content creation supported our work building the Tim Hortons Social Media community, ensuring the brand received a significant share of voice around product launches, key dates, and local events.

To create a mix of still and moving imagery, we put our ‘networking’ hat on, and liaised with photographers based locally to each new branch, briefing them on an ongoing basis and building up a shedload (or is that a coffee shop-load?) of assets. We then drew from these to produce killer content and drive our content strategy.

Job Done

Our campaign drove people, well, in droves to a host of Tim Hortons restaurant openings across the UK.


  • Grew the UK community by more than 45,000 members
  • Reached over 20 million relevant consumers
  • Consistently maintained an engagement rate significantly above the industry average
  • Created a sense of excitement which generated overnight queues in every major city that we opened

Our work across social was so successful at reaching their target consumer, Tim Hortons put all ATL marketing on hold, relying on social media and PR to tell its story.


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