Roll Up the Rim to Win or Lose?

P1060503.JPGWill I win or will I lose this time around?

The first sign of spring is not the increase in temperature, the disappearance of snow, or the first sight of flowers in bloom. The first sign of spring, for Canadians, is the red, yellow, and blue Tim Hortons' coffee cups and the constant reminder to 'Please play again'. Tim Hortons' Roll Up the Rim to Win contest is the true announcement of spring. A new abundance of prizes and chances to win transfix the minds of customers and mask the slow and brutal last leg of winter. From February to May, the contest becomes an addiction for many; henceforth, it straddles the line between good and bad.

Tim Hortons opened in 1964 and introduced to Canada a blend of coffee that has gained incredible popularity ("The Story of Tim Hortons" 1). In 1986, Tim Hortons introduced their Roll Up the Rim to Win contest to thank their customers for their loyalty to the brand and to the coffee. With each hot beverage purchased, the consumer was given a chance to win. Before the contest blew up with popularity, the best prize one could win was a box of Timbits (Tencer 1). In 2011, the chances grew with a 1 in 6 chance of winning from a prize pool that included cars, televisions, and barbeques ("Tim Hortons Roll Up the Rim to Win® Celebrates 25 Years with Better Odds - One in Six Chances - And More Prizes Than Ever" 1). In 2014, Tim Horton's introduced a second chance to win on their medium, large, and extra-large cups (1). This year, the company has taken another step forward with an online contest. Enter a code and bam, you are entered for a chance to win. With all these extra chances of winning does it mean we actually have a chance at winning something more than a coffee or doughnut?

The contest began as a small thank you to customers and has now become one of the biggest thank you's one can offer Canadians. Gambling or rather the game of chance offers individuals excitement and thrill. Roll Up the Rim to Win does much the same thing. With each sip of coffee, a small sense of thrill enters the drinker. Will they win a car, a prepaid credit card, or a television? The excitement escalates until finally the lid is ripped off the cup and one's teeth gnaw at the rim. Finally, the moment of anticipation is answered with "Win" or "Please play again." As Tanya Chen reveals in her Buzzfeed article, "13 People Who Took 'Roll Up the Rim' to the Next Level," Canadians take their Roll Up the Rim seriously. Chen shows one person's office contest rules. The rules include, "trash can cups are fair game" and "no one wants to hear 'oh I never win'" (2). Tim Hortons' contest has become a way of life and a Canadian tradition.

Every year Tim Hortons escalates the excitement by making their contest bigger and better. This year is no different. The company boasts that they are giving away "48 Million Prizes" and that "there are more prizes then Canadians" (Play Roll Up the Rim to Win Online 1). Almost everyone wants to participate now because it is technically impossible to lose.

Canadians can get a little crazy when it comes to their beloved Roll Up the Rim to Win contest. The itch to win is overwhelming. Clients come out of the restaurant with five Roll up the Rim cups, dump the coffee out and begin to gnaw their teeth into the rims. In essence, they bought the cup and not the coffee. The thrill is no longer equal to the appreciation and love of coffee but just to the contest.

Tim Hortons' play on chance has not been completely positive. It has brought out the greed in people. For example, in 2006, a 10 year old girl found a cup in the garbage at her school, in Saint-Jerome, Qc (Ryan 1). She asked her friend to help her roll up the rim. They discovered that the cup made them eligible to receive a new SUV. The situation became problematic when the girl's friend's parents thought their daughter was entitled to receive half the value of the car. As if things could not get any worse, the person who threw out the cup claimed that he had the right to the prize. Tim Horton's generous gift to loyal clients turned into a fight for a discarded cup. In this case the courts sided with the 10 year old (Ryan 1). This situation illuminates the issue with introducing gambling and chance into a setting accessible to a huge number of people.

The contest rules had to change drastically after the 2006 incident occurred. Now the In-Restaurant rules and regulations state,

Contest RIM TABS obtained through unauthorized sources or which are incomplete, mutilated, altered, reproduced, forged, counterfeited or irregular in any way, are automatically void. No RIM TAB copies, duplicates or reproductions of any type will be eligible for the contest. Contest Sponsor is not responsible for any lost RIM TABS. ("Tim Horton's Roll up the Rim to Win Contest - 2015" 11)

The company clarified that if a rim is lost or thrown out, it no longer belongs to the said person. Also, the emphasis on "[obtaining] through unauthorized sources" clarifies the issues of receiving a Roll Up the Rim to Win cup as a gift (11). If you give a cup as a gift, you lose all entitlement to the cup. A scene like this played out in Ontario where a hairdresser bought a Tim Hortons coffee for her co-worker. The co-worker won a SUV worth approximately 30,000$. The co-worker gladly shared the prize with the woman who had bought her the cup (Ryan 1).

In essence, Roll Up the Rim to Win offers Canadians a distraction from the gloom of winter. It creates excitement and hope. However, there are negative contest effects. People become addicted to chance and will do anything to win. Tim Hortons' contest reaches new heights every year, but maybe the contest has gone too far. There is always excitement when it is Roll Up the Rim to Win season and there is also always relief when it is over. Maybe it is time for Roll Up the Rim to Win to return to its beginning and only hand out free coffee or doughnuts.

P1060508.JPGLost today, but maybe I will win tomorrow!

Works Cited

Chen, Tanya. "13 People who Took 'Roll Up the Rim' to the Next Level." Buzzfeed. 2015. Web. 3 February 2015.

"Play Roll Up the Rim to Win Online". Tim Hortons. Web. 16 February 2015.

Ryan, Andrew. "Tim Hortons Adds 'Pre-cup Agreement' to Annual Roll Up the Rim to Win Promotion." The Globe and Mail. 2014. Web. 12 February 2015.

Tencer, Daniel."Tim Hortons Roll Up The Rim 2012: 5 Facts You Should Know About This Iconic Promotion." The Huffington Post Canada. 2012. Web. 12 February 2015.

"The Story of Tim Hortons." Tim Hortons: About Us. Tim Hortons. Web. 12 February 2015.

"Tim Hortons Roll Up the Rim to Win® Celebrates 25 Years with Better Odds - One in Six Chances - And More Prizes Than Ever." Tim Hortons Corporate. Tim Hortons, 2011. Web. 12 February 2015.

"Tim Hortons Roll Up the Rim to Win® Contest--2015." Roll Up the Rim to Win In-Restaurant Contest. Web. 16 February 2015.


"In 1986, Tim Hortons introduced their Roll Up the Rim to Win contest to thank their customers for their loyalty to the brand and to the coffee."

I have a hard time believe the implementation of a contest was to reward brand loyalty, rather I think it was to give incentive to increase it.

I like your topic and your article was well written and easy to follow. anything that will turn heads is great work by my standards. Good job.

So funny! Typically Canadian! I think I've only ever won once...and I think a won a doughnut. I've seriously seen "Please play again" way too many times...

I agree with Kevin!

It actually increases sales by a lot. I have a friend that only buys coffee from Tim Hortons just because of this promotion, even if she dislikes the coffee. It's absolutely crazy :P

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