Responses by GUT
Background: The purpose of this one-minute commercial from iconic Canadian QSR brand and fast food restaurant chain Tim Hortons was to create a memorable moment for the holidays that would bring all Canadians together by showcasing the brand’s core values of togetherness, inclusivity, warmth and generosity to the forefront. These values, as it turns out, also universally define the holiday season. Another important aim of this project was to build a deeper connection with Tim Hortons’s guests across all demographics, so that regardless of background, each and every one of them felt like they could engage, interact and have a reason to share this project with their networks.
Reasoning: We already knew Canadians take great pride in celebrating their unique cultures and heritage. So, we thought about how that extends into the holidays, which brought us to the cherished tradition of building a snowman and a possible link between the two behaviors. We asked ourselves if Canadians would “show their colors” when building a snowperson, and soon found online stories and images shared by real Canadians doing exactly that. Using snowpeople perfectly encapsulated the shared values of diversity, tolerance and inclusion that Canada is known for. It’s also an icon from the holidays that could be reinvented to teach a powerful lesson, and, at the same time, be heartfelt and moving.
Challenges: The weather in Canada can be unpredictable, so that was a challenge. We also asked real families from across the country to submit snowperson creations for us to feature in the film, so cutting things down was also a challenge. But the most challenging part was working towards an end line that fit the film perfectly by playing off its story while staying 100 percent on brand. After exploring hundreds of lines, we decided on, “We’re all made of the same snow. Happy Holidays.’’ It’s a powerful statement about equality and inclusion, and a line that’s unique to the film. What’s more, the combination of that powerful statement is balanced with the nice touch of “Happy Holidays.”
Favorite details: We took great pride in ensuring we were staying as close to the submitted versions as possible with each individual snowperson that was built. For example, one family submitted a snowperson of African descent that featured a beautiful African print. But we didn’t just get any African print; our stylist got the kind of print specific to the region of Africa the family was from, and that meant a lot to be able to stay authentic to the vision of our creators. It might seem small to some, but the details are what can make all the difference.
Anything new: We learned so much from this experience, especially about certain nuances in cultures that corrected misconceptions or inaccuracies we had. We also learned about the meaning and symbolism behind certain cultural artifacts, whether it be clothing, jewelry or other decorative elements. Hearing firsthand about the meaning and importance of certain objects used by a family who built their snowperson to reflect their indigenous Canadian heritage was truly special.
Alternative approach: We wouldn't change one thing if we were to start over. But if pressed, it would have to be to have included more families and more of their wonderful snowpeople submissions.