By Cazzy Lewchuk, Staff Writer
The smell of a fresh medium double-double—perhaps paired with a maple doughnut in the morning as you watch the recap of the local hockey game—is a picture that Tim Hortons uses in some variant for almost all of its advertising. Why consume its products? Because it’s the iconic Canadian fast-food chain, never too far from even the remotest of Canada’s populated areas. It’s part of our national identity and culture. It would almost be unpatriotic to not love Tim Hortons.
But let’s be honest here: Tim Hortons often sucks. In the last five years particularly, its products have become more expensive while being reduced in size and quality. The coffee is often subpar, the doughnuts have become frozen instead of freshly baked, and even the lids are flimsy. They leak, they don’t stay on, and you can’t even open them properly.
Do you ever see Tim Hortons advertising its products for the taste or quality? Absolutely not. The commercials focus on the company’s iconic status and the fact that it’s been ingrained in our minds since we were children. It’s “always fresh, always Tim Hortons.” I wouldn’t mind this so much if not for the steady decline in quality. Tim’s was great five or 10 years ago, but it’s not just nostalgia: the product quality has actually gone down significantly. Meanwhile, the company continues to open more and more locations and expand into the international market—it’s officially sunk to the level of any other mega fast-food chain. For a company with an ad campaign designed on being friendly and homelike, it really doesn’t stick to its principles in decisions or products.
Forced patriotism isn’t a reason for me to buy your product anymore, Tim Hortons. You aren’t distinctly Canadian anymore. You have many international locations and were recently purchased by Burger King, an American company. Your prices and quality have gotten worse. I’m finding fewer and fewer doughnut options in the display case. And even the new doughnuts are often based on Canadian sports teams, which is a cheap marketing grab. Should we eat this because it’s tasty or because it’s the “official” doughnut of pro-athletes?
I’m not suggesting a Tim Hortons boycott. Its products are passable, and in the end, it’s a matter of personal taste. I’m saying the image and product output have really gone downhill and its current marketing scheme won’t work forever.
Should our national identity really include a doughnut shop? It’s embarrassing for all of us. That’s like McDonald’s having an ad campaign based entirely on their American heritage. You can buy your doughnuts and coffee based on whatever factors you want, but until Tim Hortons steps it up, I’ll be taking my extra-giant coffee with five sugars and no cream at Starbucks and my doughnuts and bagels at Safeway.