Growing up, it is hard to believe there was a time when Robins Donuts was more popular than Tim Horton’s. In Saskatoon, there was some sort of gentleman’s agreement between the franchisees that Tim’s wouldn’t build right near a Robbins and vice versa. I suppose I was 10 years old at the time; there is a solid chance I made that up.
At some point in the early 1990s, Tim Horton’s opened a location on 22nd Ave right across the street from Robins. It was on like Donkey Kong!! Robins quickly retaliated by opening a location near a Tim’s on 8th Street. Long story short, Tim Horton’s exploded right across Canada including a decisive win in Saskatoon. While Robins still exists today with a small loyal following, Tim Horton’s has marketed themselves into some sort of national treasure.
Not really being a coffee drinker, I was never that excited about either shop. It wasn’t until I was living outside of Canada that Tim Horton’s took on some sort of special meaning for me. Every time I came home on vacation, I would immediately hit up a Tim’s and order a turkey sandwich. They had two turkey sandwiches on the menu at the time and I would get the one with mayo, turkey, lettuce and tomato (which I would substitute out for cucumbers). I’m not sure it was all that great of a sandwich, but it was something that could only be purchased when back in Canada. I suppose I bought into all of Tim’s marketing…
It was with great excitement that I moved back to Canada in 2005 and I had a chance to really get serious about Tim’s. I lived four short blocks from Timmy’s and it was going to be all Tim’s, all the time. The very first day I was in Calgary, I went inside the Tim’s and ordered my turkey sandwich. Good times would soon be great times! The line was long but the reward was well worth it.
I finally got my sandwich, took a bite and was ready to give out an audible contented sigh. There was one problem; they had made me the other turkey sandwich and forgot the cucumber. This was a sizable problem as the other turkey sandwich was a BLT kind of deal with some sort of weird marmalade instead of mayo. I took it back to the counter and they somewhat happily made me the right sandwich.
Our relationship quickly went from bad to worse with several more incorrect sandwich builds. It all ended in Swift Current with my banning Tim Horton’s from my life in late 2006. While there are loads of restaurants I don’t go to, Tim’s has the distinction of being the only place I have banned.
Tim’s of course hasn’t lost any sleep over my lack of business. Over the past five years they have continuously added new products and overwhelmed us with lame commercials designed to make us groan and smile. They have gone from big business to a fundamental part of the Canadian fabric. It is a true testament to some smart minds at work for the company.
Through all the lame commercials, I have always found the Sidney Crosby ads to be pretty cool. Well maybe not the one where he shows up at some pond to play hockey, but I really like those ads that have footage of him as a Timbits player when he was a kid. It really gives us a sense of Crosby, his love of hockey and his relationship with Tim Horton’s. It almost doesn’t seem like he is a paid endorser, but rather a guy teaming up with Tim’s to celebrate hockey and show us some neat home movies. Clever, clever marketing minds at work!
They have been running that Crosby ad during the playoffs where it starts with Sidney in a locker room saying, “Wouldn’t it be amazing, getting up everyday and playing; doing something that you love to do?” Part way through the line, they cut to Sidney, age 12, being interviewed. It is another clever ad showing a kid who dreamed about playing hockey all his life and realizing his dream.
I was thinking about that commercial when I heard that Crosby has opted to not represent Canada at the World Championships which are currently ongoing in Germany. On the one hand I can understand that the guy is tired and worn out. On the other hand, he’s 22 and he is in commercials telling us that he lives to play hockey. Why not go play five more games and represent your country? Why not wake up every day until the end of May, doing something that you love to do?
It makes me think that they need to reshoot that Timmy’s commercial with Ryan Smyth as the hero. Smyth, or Captain Canada as he’s known, puts on the Canada sweater every time he is asked. The cynic might point out that it is easy to play in the Worlds when your team misses the playoffs every year, but the reality is that Smitty would have gone if the Kings had lost out in the second round of the playoffs this year. Even though he is now well into his 30’s, Smitty lives to play the game of hockey. It doesn’t matter how battered and injured he is, Ryan Smyth will have that Canadian sweater on every single time he has a chance.
Actually, that gives me an idea. Robins Donuts should make Ryan Smyth their spokesperson and makes a couple of Canadiana commercials linking hard work with Canada and success. And maybe they focus on selling coffee and donuts instead of gimmicky sandwiches, soups and chilies. With my Tim Horton’s ban fully in effect forever more, I kind of need a donut shop to call my own….