- Tim Hortons has collaborated with Justin Bieber on menu innovations and co-branded merchandise, according to a press release. The singer also stars in a 60-second spot created by the Gut Agency.
- On Nov. 29, the chain will launch three new flavors of Timbits donut holes, called "Timbiebs" in a nod to the singer's nickname, and release merchandise at participating restaurant locations.
- Tim Hortons, a Restaurant Brands International (RBI) chain, has struggled to attract customers and has seen growth slow due to the pandemic. Celebrity-inspired menus and merchandise are tactics used by sister brands Burger King and Popeyes to help engage younger consumers.
Tim Hortons' collaboration with Justin Bieber pairs two of Canada's most popular exports in an effort to connect the QSR chain — best known for its coffee and doughnuts — with younger fans of the musician. The creation of three new Timbits flavors was the result of a "multi-stage, iterative journey" with the chain's director of culinary innovation, Tallis Voakes, per the release, and is recreated with comic effect in a 60-second spot created by the Gut Agency.
The collaboration not only pairs the chain with a megastar, but also one that has an authentic, "fanatical" connection to the brand, per the press release.
"He knows exactly what our guests already love about the Tims brand and he's helping us deliver new menu innovations that we know they're going to love," Tim Hortons CMO Hope Bagozzi said in the announcement.
An authentic relationship with celebrities has driven similar efforts by Tim Hortons' sister brands Burger King and Popeyes. Burger King in September launched Keep It Real Meals, teaming the chain with musicians and influencers, who used their real names as part of an effort to promote the chain's elimination of 120 artificial ingredients from its menu. Popeyes in October partnered with rapper Megan Thee Stallion on a sauced inspired by her personality and a series of co-branded merchandise collections.
All three efforts by the RBI chains come after industry leader McDonald's has driven sales and mobile growth with its Famous Orders platform that has seen the brand team with Travis Scott, J Balvin and BTS. It remains to be seen whether RBI's collaborations will have the same effect on sales and app usage.
Tim Hortons reported same-store sales growth of 8.9% — below some Wall Street estimates — but has seen all of its product categories except hot coffee return to pre-pandemic levels or higher, per its latest earnings report. The chain has struggled under RBI leadership, and the parent company's marketing department has seen several high-profile departures this year.