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The Tim Hortons ad in Verizon Center

(Greg Fiume – Getty)


If your Caps playoff experience has been anything like mine, it has often involved a 6-year old calling out happily every time someone skates past the Tim Hortons ad on the dasher boards.

That experience led me to wonder why exactly there would be a Tim Hortons ad at Verizon Center, since — outside of Virginia military bases — the closest Tim Hortons are in either West Virginia or the New York City market.

Turns out the NHL controls the inventory for all on-camera dasher board ads during the playoffs. And since every playoff game has a national U.S. broadcast audience, plus exposure in Canada, the donut-and-coffee chain — whose co-founder played in the NHL — decided to invest in a national playoff deal for the first time.

“It’s a good opportunity for us to get brand exposure,” spokeswoman Brynn Burton told me. “The sport is very close to our heart, and it was a really good fit.”

The company already sponsors 11 NHL teams — the seven Canadian franchises, plus Columbus, Detroit, New Jersey and Buffalo, where my daughter fell in love with the chain. But this year’s playoff deal has brought the dasher board ads to places like Southern California, St. Louis, Chicago, and D.C.

“We’re not specifically looking to expand into these markets; it’s just good brand exposure,” Burton said. “A lot of people know the brand; they grew up in other cities and then moved on. And the chatter on social media has been cool in cities where we don’t typically have a presence.”

Like in Washington, where I’ve seen multiple fans tweet about the ads this month.

So go ahead and tell all the 6-year olds in your life to enjoy the ads during the postseason, but not to get their hopes up. Although a Caps spokesman told me that he does buy Tim Hortons coffee beans at Wegmans, if that interests you.

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.



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Dan Steinberg · May 7, 2013