Roll Up the Rim 2020: Tim Hortons slashes contest while pushing app ‘rolls’

Click to play video: 'Tim Hortons changes up their iconic Roll Up the Rim'
Tim Hortons changes up their iconic Roll Up the Rim
WATCH: Tim Hortons’ iconic Roll Up the Rim contest is about to get a lot shorter and more complicated – Feb 19, 2020

Tim Hortons‘ iconic Roll Up the Rim contest is about to get a lot shorter and more complicated as the coffee chain moves to slash costs while pushing customers to use its mobile app.

It’s also going to involve a lot less rolling, and probably a lot less winning.

The company announced a new set of rules for its annual Roll Up the Rim contest on Wednesday, and those rules are a far cry from what Canadians might be used to.

Essentially, the contest will come and go before you know it — and you won’t see nearly as many discarded roll-up cups lying around this spring. Instead, Canadians will be expected to collect “rolls” through their Tims Rewards account, which can be redeemed online or through the Tim Hortons app.

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Roll Up the Rim will run for four weeks from March 11 until April 7, according to the newly published rules. That’s much shorter than last year, when Tim Hortons ran the promotion for 10 weeks (Feb. 6 until Apr. 17, 2019).

Click to play video: 'Tim Hortons changes “Roll Up the Rim”'
Tim Hortons changes “Roll Up the Rim”

Additionally, physical roll-up cups will only be available in-store for the first two weeks of the contest. Tim Hortons will hand out digital “rolls” to customers’ accounts for the full four weeks, meaning you can get two entries per coffee over the first 14 days.

Customers who buy a hot drink with a reusable cup will get three digital rolls for all four weeks of the contest.

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“Tim Hortons has modernized its iconic contest to allow for a combination of paper, digital and sustainable play,” the company said in a news release announcing the rules on Wednesday.

Tim Hortons also plans to give away 1.8 million reusable cups for free on March 10, just before the contest gets underway.

The company says its efforts will make Tim Hortons more sustainable. However, it’s unclear how much impact it will have, as most customers who earn a digital “roll” will still be buying their coffee in a paper cup — just not one with a prize under the rim.

Tim Hortons chose a “hybrid” model of paper cups and digital “rolls” to accommodate those who prefer the old way of doing it, according to Hope Bagozzi, the company’s chief marketing officer. However, she also expects the digital app to generate excitement throughout the contest.

“It actually has broader appeal than people might think,” Bagozzi told the Kelly Cutrara Show on Wednesday. “People of all different ages and right across the country are using the digital technology.”

Bagozzi also acknowledged that the digital app allows Tim Hortons to learn more about customers’ habits, but she says that data will not be shared “in any way.”

“The idea is to be able to know what’s relevant to guests,” she said.

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LISTEN BELOW: Tim Hortons CMO Hope Bagozzi explains the new Roll Up the Rim contest to Kelly Cutrara on Global News Radio 640

“Our small town restaurants serve a rural community, but our guests are just as digital as you would find in bigger cities around the country,” Tanya Doucette, a store owner in Rocky Mountain House, Alta., is quoted as saying in the Tim Hortons news release.

“About half our customers every day are using the Tims Rewards program and I know they will really like the improved chances of winning on the app and the weekly draws of $100,000.”

Click to play video: 'Coming soon to the breakfast table: Timbits cereal'
Coming soon to the breakfast table: Timbits cereal

However, the push toward a mobile app might leave many technologically challenged Canadians behind — especially since the simple “roll up, tear and redeem” model will be a smaller part of the contest.

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Tim Hortons also appears to have slashed the value of the contest prizes by more than half. The total estimated retail value of all digital and cup prizes this year is $29.9 million, according to the 2020 contest rules. Last year’s total prize value was $71.3 million.

The contest still offers a boatload of gift cards, cars and other major prizes, but Tim Hortons appears to have lowered the odds for its most common prizes: free coffee and food. Last year’s odds were one in six. This year’s odds for paper cups are one in nine.

The contest rules do not show the odds of winning free coffee or food through a digital roll. Instead, they simply say that the odds “depend on the number and timing of entrants.” However, Tim Hortons expects “1:6 odds, or better,” according to Sarah McConnell, a spokesperson for the chain’s parent company, Restaurant Brands International (RBI).

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McConnell also points out that customers who use their Tims Rewards account to collect digital “rolls” will also be participating in the loyalty program, which guarantees a free drink after every seven purchases.

“We intentionally designed the contest this year to reward behaviours that are digital and sustainable – something guests told us was a priority and organizations like Greenpeace have applauded us for,” she told Global News in a statement.

She says the push for reusable cups is a “first step in long-term behaviour change, but a meaningful one.”

McConnell adds that while the value of the contest prizes is lower than last year, it’s being run in addition to Tims’ new loyalty program.

The company saw its profits fall in the last quarter, and the new contest rules will clearly help it save millions of dollars in costs. It’s also trying to hold onto its Canadian roots despite being owned by a foreign corporation.

Click to play video: 'Justin Bieber rants about Tim Hortons cup lids'
Justin Bieber rants about Tim Hortons cup lids

“We’re as Canadian as you get,” Doucette said at a news conference last month, where Tim Hortons tried to reassure Canadians that it’s still part of the country’s identity.

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“We intend to start swinging back very hard everywhere that someone says that we’re not Canadian,” chief corporate officer Duncan Fulton added in a separate interview.

He might have some swinging to do once Canadians get wind of the new Roll Up the Rim rules.

But hey, at least they’re giving people Timbits cereal, right?

Digital contest odds have been updated with additional information provided by Restaurant Brands International.

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