#103 – Tim Horton’s Brown Sludge Water, Part Seven: Mr. Horton Goes to America

English Canadians would explode if they saw Tim Hortons’ American marketing.

Shockingly, the mere existence of Canada does not bring Americans to orgasm, so they require advertising to be something more than just cock-stroking. They had to change their name out a bit, to Tim Hortons’ Cafe and Bake Shop, to even explain what the hell a Tim Horton is supposed to be. Perhaps this has something to do with the company tending to advertise in hockey rinks, a tactic which works so well that the company held 2.7% of the US market share in 2013. Perhaps, just maybe, Americans do other things?

This is a bigger problem for Tim than it initially sounds. There are only so many Canadians in Canada to sell Tim Horton’s Brown Sludge Water™ to. Saturation is sort of an inevitable reality of a country like Canada, meaning that the company is outgrowing its pot. There are only so many suburban people to sell swill to in Canada. Meanwhile, Tims can’t expand past American border cities, where – you guessed it – Canadians go to shop because their own stores are so inferior to American ones. Like little colonies of Canadiana, Tim Hortons can only live where a bunch of red-and-white yokels are able to prop it up. Inconvenient and with a menu board slathered in strange options (nothing says cafe like crispy chicken burger-things!), it’s no small wonder that Americans know better than to take “Canadian charm” at face value.

And that’s really telling, isn’t it? If the product can’t sell itself outside of a narrative, there’s a slight chance that your product sucks. Does Dunkin’ Donuts have itself intimately linked to the NFL or to MLB? Does Starbucks lean on screaming bald eagles and fireworks to get their coffee (which is at least ground on site) out the door? Does Caribou Coffee serve up a side of AMERIKKKA with every cup? Of course not. Why? Because they don’t have to – the product speaks for itself. Either you’re buying an unmythologized, simple-ass cup of coffee (i.e.: Dunkin’ Donuts, Caribou) or the thing you’re buying is the mythology of coffee as a quality product.

Tim’s does neither. It is mythologized crap – freeze-dried, pre-ground beans wrapped up in a Canadian flag. The problem is that the myth of Canada doesn’t extend past Canada except where Canadians are. Shockingly, once again we have demonstrated that the world doesn’t care about Canada. You can’t sell Canadian mythology anywhere except where Canadians are because only Canadians are the only people dumb enough to believe in it. Peddling crap on myth means that you’re just peddling crap once the myth falls off. Amazingly, Americans can see that and react accordingly.

Instead of working on making a better product that could actually appeal to people, Tim’s legions are telling Canada that Americans just don’t “get” Tim Horton’s Brown Sludge Water™ and adding ever-more strange-ass shit to what we’ll charitably call a menu. Improvement? Now that’s not part of the Canadian mythos.

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