Monday, August 17, 2009


Tim Horton’s this week became the latest mega-brand to get smacked upside the head by the internet, and by social media in particular. Things brewed up into a cyber-storm when it was revealed that a Timmy’s franchise owner in Rhode Island had agreed to supply the joe for an event in town called “Marriage and Family Day.” Turns out, the event was organized by a staunch anti-same-sex marriage organization called the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). This touched off a fast-moving social media tsunami (on Twitter, especially) of anti-Tim’s postings, rants and calls for boycotts, led by those who interpreted it as an official corporate position on the controversial issue. Comments and re-Tweets were popping up by the dozen every minute, but Tim’s was silent in that sphere. Hours later, the company issued a statement saying the sponsorship had been cancelled and that the franchise owner had stepped outside of the company’s sponsorship guidelines. That was the right move from a mainstream media standpoint, but their lack of presence on the social media side – where the fire started in the first place – warrants a Fumble. Tim Horton’s – like any other brand – should be consistently monitoring what’s being said about it in the blogosphere and on the major social media sites, so that if anything like this blows up, they’ll know about it in real time. And second, they should have at least had a holding line at play on Twitter and everywhere else – even saying only that they’re looking into it – to show their engagement. The internet moves literally at the speed of light, and speed can kill, kids.

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