Blogs & Comment

Tim Hortons’ double Roll-Up-The-Rim cup is genius business innovation

“What if we added a SECOND roll?”

Two rolls, one cup

To me, Tim Hortons coffee tastes like hot sadness. I’m a bit of a snob that way. But every year, around this time, I’m still in the Tims’ line most days, waiting for my swilly fix. Why? It’s simple. I love Roll-Up-The-Rim-To-Win. I know it’s irrational. I know the extra money I spend on coffee is near statistically certain to outweigh the value of any prizes I might win. But I do it anyway. I just love to roll those stupid cups.

This year I love it twice as much. To celebrate Tims’ 50th anniversary, the chain has added a second, bonus, roll to every cup. It’s genius, in a way—the kind of innovation that costs almost nothing in development or execution that can result in heaps of free media (like this blog post), renewed interest and maybe even extra sales.

The extra genius thing, for the company, is that there aren’t even that many prizes available on the bonus roll. Your first, classic roll can win you one of 40 Toyota Corollas, a gift card, a prepaid credit card or (most likely) a free coffee or donut. On the second roll, you can win one of ten cars—but no food, drink or other prizes. So the extra costs to the company (if you assume a Toyota partnership) are almost nothing.

At some point, somebody in a Tim Horton’s meeting piped up and said ‘What if we added a second roll?’ And that person is business gold. They understood that the real appeal of Roll-Up isn’t the prizes. (I’m not sure I’ve ever redeemed a winner. I threw one out yesterday without thinking.) It’s the rolling itself and the precious seconds it allows to believe that maybe—just maybe—today will be the day you win a mediocre sedan. We salute you, sir or madam. And we thank you for your simple, brilliant, strategic business brain.