Roll up Tim’s? You won’t win
Here’s a little advice for environmentalists and political operatives alike: you don’t tug on Superman’s cape. You don’t spit into the wind. And you don’t play the boycott game with Tim Hortons.
Because all you’re creating is the ultimate tempest in a teacup — or in this case, a tempest in a paper coffee cup where you can occasionally roll up the rim and win something.
Over the last little while, there’s been a small-time boycott battle unfolding around the Tim Hortons coffee chain.
It started something like this: a couple of environmental groups took umbrage to oil giant Enbridge; more precisely, to Tim Hortons running Enbridge ads on their video screens in a variety of locations.
The environmentalists started a boycott campaign, emailing the coffee giant to make their points. Eventually, when the campaign reached 28,000 emails, the coffee company said it was pulling the ads (a small victory, because the ad contract was ending in a week anyway).
Cue the protesters protesting the protest. A different group, involving federal Conservative cabinet ministers and organizers, started a boycott of their own, accusing Tim Hortons of taking a stand against workers in the beleaguered oil industry. (I guess they didn’t stop to consider the effects of a successful boycott on the much-lowerpaid workers in the beleaguered coffee industry.)
Leave all that aside. I’d suggest neither side in the great boycott debate spends much time in Tim Hortons anyway. Because if they did, they’d realize that they are tilting at windmills much, much larger than themselves.
The Conservative party is fond of tilting towards its base, a non-cohesive, non-formally-active but like-minded group of voters who can be counted on to back family initiatives and law and order.
You might even call it a dou- ble-double constituency — ironically, it’s just the way Tim Hortons seem to be describing its customers in its own advertising.
It’s supposedly hockey moms, small-r right wingers, what might be called the meat and potatoes crowd — people like my old fire chief from Wolfville, N.S., a blunt-talking advocate for the status quo and a rabid Tim Hortons devotee. Offer him a mocha-chino and he’d question your lifestyle and morals.
Ask him to boycott Tim’s? Laughable.
Now, maybe the company’s decision to pull the ads was a bad move. But boycotting Tim’s? The environmentalists don’t live there, and the Conserva- tives can’t possibly believe that the base is going to put down its double-double nationwide for the sake of the poor old oil business. That’s like asking for a junk food boycott to support the banking industry, or maybe a Netflix boycott to save the whales — eyes roll. My advice? Back off, boycott buddies. This is a bad call by everyone.
There’s nothing but pitfalls and doughnut holes ahead.
Fact is, you’ll damage your own cause long before you put even the slightest dent in coffee sales.
Russell Wangersky is TC Media’s Atlantic Regional columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; his column appears on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays in TC Media’s daily papers.
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