Every year during Tim Hortons' Roll up the Rim to Win contest I'm a little bit torn over the disposable cup.
Don't get me wrong -- I think the concept, the actual printing onto the previously "unused" area that gets rolled and hidden under the rim of the cup is absolute brilliance on behalf of Ron Buist, who was a long-time marketing director for Tim Hortons. I had the pleasure of listening to him talk at a Campus Stores Canada symposium a few years ago and read his book Tales from Under the Rim: The Marketing of Tim Hortons shortly after that and quite enjoyed both his talk and the book.
However, technology has advanced in such a way that I think Tim Hortons can continue the very successful marketing campaign, but offer a more environmentally friendly way of playing.
And no, it's not that I always have a reusable mug on me -- but I do like to keep one in the car when I'm going on long trips, and I also keep one at work. Tim Hortons does offer a discount on the purchase of a coffee when you bring in your own reusable mug -- but, the saving of 10 cents during the Roll Up The Rim To Win time of year hardly compares to the chance to win a prize (whether it's a free donut, coffee or perhaps a new car).
So, just like there's an incentive to bring in a reusable cup, perhaps there can be an incentive to use a smartphone application (or online entry) for the whole "Rim" promotion. And thus my riff on the "rim" of the cup with RIM as in Research in Motion, yet another hugely successful Canadian success story, the folks behind the Blackberry: Roll up on your RIM to Win!
Here's how I imagine my idea might work.
When customers purchase a coffee during the "RIM" promotional period, they either get the wonderful cup we all know and love, or they get the option to register a randomly generated code either immediately using an application on their smartphone, or, if they don't have a smartphone or the app installed, via an entry form on their website (similar perhaps to the way that iCoke points are entered for contest prizes)
Of course, in order to encourage people to continue using reusable cups during the promotion, there needs to be an incentive. Let's be honest here, most people quickly and easily default back to the "what's in it for me" mentality in much of their daily activities and routines. That's not to say that people don't try to do better, and don't think about consequences -- Earth Hour is quite successful every year; it generates a huge amount of awareness; yet, despite this, most of us go back to our regular wasteful habits almost immediately after that hour is over. Not because people are selfish and evil -- it's just human nature. We need continued reminders (like Earth Hour) to prompt us to be less wasteful, to reduce consumption of materials and resources.
Thus, any promotion that ties back to environmental benefits, such as less waste, needs to be as simple as possible, and needs to offer an added incentive. For doing it "the digital way" I think that people need to get more; thus, two chances to win rather than one is a pretty cost-effective way of giving them more.
So, if I buy a coffee and get my tradition rolling rim, I get a chance to win, just like it has always been? Cool.
But if I do the digital rim thing, I not only get a discount on my coffee purchase, but I get TWO chances to win? Where did you say I could install that free application?
Of course, the whole digital method of "rolling the rim" could be extended to all kinds of social media platforms and made into games and fun sharing (further pushing the environmental message in a fun and competitive way). There is already an application for smartphones like RimRoller in which users can enter their "stats" of wins and track a Win/Loss ratio that is sent out to Twitter. So why not offer something similar?
The idea is simple and I'm sure that, using technology that already exists within the Franchise, (whether it's related to their cash register system auto-generated a number or a number being printed to those little slips of paper that come out showing your remaining balance on your gift card) something can be developed where you either enter the code right into your smartphone application on the spot, perhaps texting the entry code to a particular number or entering it online later. (I like the instant entry option because it might be more exciting to win on the spot rather than finding out later at home, or forgetting to enter)
In any case, I'm sure there are some really smart people out there who could make the idea work.
In the meantime, I'll continue to feel guilty when I take a disposable cup during this promotion rather than my reusable one. (Of course, I'll do my best to remember to recycle or add the cup to my compostable waste. But reducing use is still better than recycling waste)