- Tim Hortons reported sales growth after a slump thanks to the Justin Bieber partnership.
- RBI’s CEO praised the collaboration for garnering social media attention from younger customers.
- Celebrity partnerships have been popular with fast-food chains over the last few years.
Coffee chain Tim Hortons is reporting some much-needed sales growth thanks to Justin Bieber’s doughnut collaboration.
Bieber and Tim Hortons announced the co-branded launch in November, which included limited edition “Timbiebs Timbits” in three flavors selected by the Canadian pop star. Tim Hortons’ parent company Restaurant Brands International reported that the coffee chain’s sales grew over 10% in the fourth quarter of 2021, after a decline of 11% over the same period the previous year.
The collaboration with Bieber “was one of the more successful traffic-driving initiatives in recent memory and outperformed our internal expectations,” CEO Jose Cil told analysts during the call.
Partnering with celebrities has been a boon to brands. McDonald’s kicked off the trend with the Travis Scott Meal, which was available for a month in the fall of 2020. It was the first in McDonald’s ongoing Famous Orders lineup, consisting of a Quarter Pounder with cheese, bacon, and lettuce, medium fries with BBQ Sauce, and a Sprite — Scott’s favorite meal at the chain.
The brilliance of the promotion was that McDonald’s got all the excitement that typically goes with a limited-time offering, alongside the press from a celebrity partnership. But the meal didn’t add any complexity to the kitchen, because it used only ingredients already on the menu. The Tim Hortons Timbiebs promotion similarly didn’t add extra tasks for workers.
“Operationally, it’s very smart to take that approach,” Mark Kalinowski, CEO and founder of Kalinowski Equity Research, previously told Insider.
“Everyone saw McDonald’s do well, so it’s not surprising to see some other concepts emulate what they did,” Kalinowski said.
The other important piece of these promotions is “culturally relevant entertainers,” who brands can tap into to attract younger customers, Kalinowski said. For example, Dunkin’ partnered with TikTok star Charli D’Amelio on a drink called “The Charli,” which became its most successful product launch ever.
That strategy worked for Tim Hortons, too. The promotion led to “unprecedented social engagement and increased appeal with younger guests,” Cil said. He added that “You can expect to see more from this exciting partnership in the year ahead.”
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