Spotted the Tim Hortons cup in Homeland?

December 19, 2012  |  David Brown  |  Comments

Tim Hortons wants to take over America, has infiltrated the CIA and has its sights set on the Navy SEALS.

Canada’s most famous coffee showed up in a recent episode of the ultra-popular, Emmy award-winning Homeland, a television show about CIA agents fighting terrorists. It was no accident.

“We’ve been getting more aggressive with brand placement this year,” says David Morelli, director of public affairs for Tim Hortons.

The company has been working with Burbank, California’s Feature This, which seeks out opportunities for brands to authentically work their way into scenes of big TV shows and movies.

The Tim’s PR team has also met with product placement gatekeepers at major studios like Disney and Universal to discuss how they could fit into some of their productions and even sent coffee and coffee makers to film and production crews, hoping they’ll be more inclined to include them in a shot if they’ve been drinking Tim Hortons coffee on set all day.

It’s made a couple of other appearances, but Homeland was the biggest and best so far.

Tim’s has been growing quickly in the U.S. (more than 700 stores now), but still has to “be creative” to extend brand awareness, says Morelli. “We don’t have national TV advertising, so this is one of those ways we have looked to build some buzz,” he says.

“Part of our overall marketing strategy in the U.S. is to look bigger than we are… While we are sizable, we are not as big as some of the major competitors, so we are looking for ways to get scale.”

Pleased with the Homeland appearance, the Tim Horton’s PR team is anxiously waiting for the debut of Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow’s feature about the mission to kill Osama bin Laden. The filming included a scene on a base where Tim Hortons set up shop to serve the troops. They just don’t know if it will make the final cut.

This story originally appeared in the Dec. 17issue of Marketing.

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