Day of Inclusion: Tim Hortons and Special Olympics Canada
Tim Hortons is a multinational restaurant chain and is Canada’s largest quick-service restaurant chain with more than 4,800 restaurants in 14 countries around the world.
Tim Hortons sponsors a number of national sports properties in Canada as well as supports community-based initiatives including the Timbits Minor Sports Program that provides opportunities for children aged 4-9 to play house league sports. In 2016, Tim Hortons expanded its Timbits Minor Sports Program, partnering with Special Olympics Canada (SOC) to ensure children and youth with intellectual disabilities receive the same sports opportunities as their peers.
SOC runs more than 6,100 daily community and competitive low- or no-cost programs year-round through its 12 Provincial and Territorial Chapters, reaching 47,461 children, youth and adults with an intellectual disability, as well as their families, friends and supporters.
In July 2018, Special Olympics around the world marked the first-ever Global Day of Inclusion (DOI) to create a world where individuals with an intellectual disability are included. Tim Hortons, due to its presence in communities across the country and its commitment to diversity and inclusion, was a natural fit. Together, SOC and Tim Hortons sold a Special Olympics Donut with all proceeds from the donut donated to Special Olympics community programs across the country.
Due to the incredible success of the first year, Tim Hortons and SOC agreed to continue the Day of Inclusion celebration for an additional three years (July 2019, 2020 and 2021) as part of a renewed partnership agreement.
SOC athletes were asked submit their idea for a donut that represents Special Olympics and inclusion to them. They received 470 submissions, a 450% increase from 2018. After selecting four finalists, Tim Hortons’ research & development team tested each donut and selected the creation by Tori Ranson, a 26-year-old Special Olympics athlete from Georgetown, ON. Her design: a cruller, cut in half with whipped cream in the middle, dipped in vanilla icing with red sprinkles.
Tim Hortons also partnered with TSN/RDS again, Canada’s largest English and French sports network, to promote the Day of Inclusion. The network aired calls to action along with digital and social promotions using its personalities and multiple platforms to reach Canadians with the message of #ChooseToInclude and to drive traffic to restaurants on Saturday, July 20.
SOC ran a photo challenge to engage various audiences in the inclusion conversation. Prizes were awarded for the best photos posted by a Special Olympics athlete, Special Olympics team, an individual Canadian and a generic team.
SOC and Tim Hortons coordinated “donut drops” to newsrooms and social media influencers, encouraging them to post with the hashtags on their accounts.
Athletes, coaches and volunteers visited participating Tim Hortons Restaurants across the country. And Special Olympics Donut clings were posted on Tim Hortons’ bakery showcase where the donuts were featured on the drive-thru menu.
On Saturday, July 20, the Day of Inclusion, #ChooseToInclude was one of the top trending hashtags in Canada that weekend, with thousands of photos shared throughout the day. In 2,865 Tim Hortons Restaurants, the Special Olympics Donut was sold with all proceeds from every donut going to SOC to support community sports programs. Throughout the day, nearly 97,500 donuts were sold (a 25% increase from the number sold in 2018), raising $150,000, a 23% increase over the amount raised in 2018.
As a result, participating restaurants saw higher traffic and sales numbers on the Day of Inclusion than previous weekends and restaurants with an athlete visit performed much better in average unit volumes.
Day of Inclusion email blasts significantly outperformed in terms of open rates as compared to average.
On social media, 11,749 individual posts used the #ChooseToInclude hashtag in Canada (a 38% increase over 2018) and Day of Inclusion had 98 earned media news articles through online and print publications.