It’s been a big month for Tim Hortons. Not only did news break that Burger King would be buying the chain and moving its headquarters to Canada, but also Tim Hortons released it’s first new coffee blend in 50 years.
While news of the beloved Canadian chain’s purchase caused a huge buzz amongst investors (Tim Hortons shares increased by 8.5% to $81.05) and contributed to a record setting day for the S&P 500, news of the new blend probably cause more of a stir amongst its loyal customers who, until now, had only one choice of coffee blend at the chain.
To announce the new dark roast, Tim Hortons relied on one of the most popular and effective creative approaches in branded video: the stunt.
The main piece of creative in the campaign, a two-minute video, begins with an outside shot of a Tim Hortons store being “dark-washed.” The entire exterior of the store – including the windows, a bench, as well as the bikes and car parked outside – are painted black. It speaks to how much people love the chain’s coffee that customers still approach the store to get their daily cup of joe, albeit cautiously.
Upon entering, these customers discover that the interior is also painted pitch black, leaving them to grope their way towards the counter. While some look like they’re bracing themselves for a scare, they are rewarded instead with a sip of hot coffee. The customers are then asked to give descriptions of the coffee. They describe it as “rich,” “intense,” and “smooth.” When the lights come on, they reveal that what these customers have been drinking is the new dark roast.
The combination of the stunt, a new product, the likable customers, and the well-established love for the brand have all contributed to the True Reach® of more than 2.4 million views and 32,000 social interactions that the campaign has garnered in the last two weeks.
While some may think that stunt-vertising like this is a bit played out, the truth is that it is still one of the most effective ways to gain traction around a video. In 2013, for example, 339 campaigns employed stunts or events, the fourth most of any creative approach (after humor, celebrities, and product demos). These campaigns resulted in 1 billion views, an average of more than 3.1 million views per campaign.
The question is, what about a stunt makes it so effective in branded video. Stunts, simply put, are newsworthy. The surprise associated with a stunt gets people talking and when people talk, they will share with their friends. All of this contributes to increased viewership and earned media.