Shocking Canadian collaboration between Justin Bieber and Tim Hortons is a teaching moment for brands in need of a makeover

Tim Hortons, Canada’s largest restaurant chain known for its coffee and donuts, recently teamed up with one of the world’s biggest pop stars. As part of a marketing strategy to expand their reach in the United States, the coffee giant has teamed up with Canadian singer, and apparently long-time client, Justin Bieber.

“Working with Tim Hortons has always been a dream for me,” says Bieber. “I grew up with Tim Hortons and it has always been close to my heart.”

The Bieber-Tim Hortons partnership has launched three new Timbit flavors. Officially, they are called “Timbiebs”. But it is their unofficial, albeit slightly outrageous, name of “Bieber Balls” that has stuck and has become the go-to name for millions of coffee-drinking Canadians.

(And by the way, to my American readers, a Timbit is the Canadian version of a donut hole.)

This celebrity endorsement highlights a change from traditional Tim Hortons collaborations with NHL hockey players. While some loyal customers may feel sidelined by Tim Hortons ‘sudden and seemingly desperate attempt to attract a new Gen Z demographic, Bieber Balls’ massive demand has proven this partnership to be the right move. .

Here are some tips that brands can take away from the Tim Hortons x Justin Bieber union.

Stick with what you know, but do it in a new way

Fan or not, we’ve all heard the name “Justin Bieber” before. As a certified international popstar who has gained over 200 million followers online, a collaboration with Bieber is guaranteed to attract an army of dedicated young fans. The popularity of Timbiebs (and limited edition merchandising) proves it. Tim Hortons’ decision to partner with Bieber is a great lesson in increasing brand awareness.

Over the past few years, Tim Hortons has struggled to attract new customers. In 2019, their attempt to attract younger, more health-conscious customers with a plant-based burger failed, ultimately forcing them to stop the article after only two months. The problem is, customers don’t go to Tim Hortons for healthy options. Coffee and donuts are their bread and butter, and venturing too far can make Tim Hortons look “out of stock.”

While they may have missed the mark with vegan menu items, their collaboration with Bieber was just what they needed. Instead of adding a new “trendy” item, Tim Hortons stuck with their tried-and-true donuts and just added new flavors. Additionally, while Bieber’s fame attracts American customers, his Canadian roots allow Tim Hortons to remain a symbol of Canadian national identity.

Create (artificial) demand, but don’t let it slip away

In addition to launching their new donut flavors, Tim Hortons launched limited edition items including hats, tote bags and fanny packs with the “Timbiebs” logo on them. The demand for this product quickly exploded, resulting in the resale of items online for a alarming mark-up rate. In addition to the resale of the merchandise itself, a bidding war for an empty Timbiebs box ended in a winning bid of over $ 10,000. For reference, a box containing 10 Timbiebs costs $ 2.74.

While fan reaction to this merchandise may seem absurd, it’s not surprising. Market a product as “limited edition“Is a surefire way to tap into need for uniqueness, positively influencing their perception of the product. Owning something that very few people own can instantly make customers feel special, especially if it leaves their peers. envious.

While the popularity of this limited edition product has worked well for Tim Hortons, it’s important to note that things can quickly go wrong when demand is too high. When this happens, customers get frustrated with the brand for advertising something that is so widely inaccessible. Tim Hortons clearly understands the position they are in and advertises that they are restocking all things related to Bieber as soon as possible.

Choose the timing of your campaign carefully

The timing of deployment also played an important role in its success. As mentioned above, Tim Hortons has struggled to attract a younger customer base in the past. This is probably due, in part, to the influence social media has had on body image.

It is no secret that Instagram has dramatically affected the way young people view their bodies, putting users at increased risk of eating disorders and dysmorphic disorder of the body. If your brand revolves around selling baked goods, consumers becoming overly concerned about their appearance can be a substantial barrier.

Despite this finding, people are not equally concerned about their body image throughout the year. Research shows that body dissatisfaction tends to be highest in the summer and the lowest in winter. In other words, if you want customers to make room in their diet for delicious donuts, winter is the time to strike. Tim Hortons’ decision to launch their new Timbits just this holiday season was a smart strategy that surely helped their partnership with Bieber succeed.

The opinions expressed here by the columnists of are theirs and not those of

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