Exhibitor: Aryzta AG
Creative/Production: Nimlok Chicago, 847-380-8107, www.nimlok-chicago.com
Show: Tim Hortons Owners Convention, 2017
Promotional Budget: Less than $49,000
• Increase brand recognition and positioning among Tim Hortons franchisees.
• Promote the supplier's bite-size, on-the-go offerings.
• Raise $6,000 for the Tim Horton Children's Foundation.
• Achieved a roughly 35-point increase in brand-name recognition compared to the 2016 convention.
• Delivered thousands of samples via game activations and creative promotions.
• Generated more than $10,000 for the foundation.
Reports of patrons finding ants, crickets,
and worms baked into their pastries
would put most food businesses on
thin icing. However, Aryzta AG, a Swiss
food company that provides bakery items
for Tim Hortons Inc., the iconic Canadianbased
chain of quick-service eateries
specializing in coffee and doughnuts, was
willing to gamble that visitors would not
only eat the unexpected edibles but also
come back for more – and drag their
friends along with them. But insect-ridden
food was just one antic that turned Aryzta's
booth into a revolving door of returning
attendees at the 2017 Tim Hortons Owners
Convention in Las Vegas.
The annual private event gives the
2,000 showgoers, who operate Tim Hortons
franchises, the opportunity to meet with
vendors, learn about new products, and
offer suggestions for improving the brand.
The show also provides an important touchpoint
for suppliers, as each year Tim Hortons
solicits new requests for proposal from its
vendors that result in shifting
shares of the supply-chain pie.
In other words, the convention
gives Aryzta a chance to secure
its slice of that pie and
nibble on its
For the past five years, Aryzta has
partnered with Nimlok Chicago to develop
progressively more memorable experiences
for attendees. "It's our mission to
have the most engaging, exciting supplier
booth," says Stacey Andrade, senior manager
of customer development at Aryzta
Canada. "The design and activities that
entice guest interaction are a large part of
why we are successful at this event."
"One of the big pushes every single
year, this year included, is to outperform
the year before," says Miranda Wulfing,
Nimlok Chicago's trade
show and event marketing
strategist. "Aryzta wants
to be the showstopper
and create memorable
Over the years,
the company's exhibit
into one of the event's
biggest highlights, according to Andrade and Wulfing, which can be a
double-edged sword. Since Tim Hortons knows that
Aryzta reliably draws a crowd, it located the company's
2017 booth near the back of the show floor to incentivize
attendees to venture further into the exhibit hall. While a
strategic move for show management, the placement put
added pressure on Aryzta to develop an experience that
overcame the less than desirable locale.
In addition to the location-related challenge, Aryzta
provided Nimlok Chicago with three clear goals. First, the
company wanted to raise brand awareness among franchise
owners, as attendee feedback at the 2016 convention
revealed that only about 50 percent of survey respondents
knew of Aryzta and the role it plays in providing Tim
Hortons' bakery items. Second, Aryzta wanted to maintain
its position as a company that shares Tim Hortons' corporate
values, so it set a goal of raising at least $6,000 for
the Tim Horton Children's Foundation through some form
of cause marketing. Third, the pastry supplier wanted to
promote its smaller, on-the-go offerings while continuing
to highlight its core categories, e.g., doughnuts and Timbits,
the franchise's branded version of doughnut holes.
To achieve these goals, Aryzta and Nimlok Chicago hit
on a strategy that would entice attendees to stop by the
booth not once, but several times. "We want our customers
to come back to our booth again and again to learn more
about us, see what we're doing, and spend more face time
with our team," Andrade says. "But the hardest thing is to
keep it interesting and engaging throughout the multiple
days of the event." To do just that, the exhibitor decided to
take full advantage of the convention's unique schedule.
The two-day convention's exhibit hall was open for
a couple hours in the morning during breakfast, in the
afternoon during lunch, and again during the evening
of the first day, meaning that Aryzta essentially
had five short windows of opportunity to lure
attendees to its booth. So to maximize those
opportunities – and encourage repeat visits
– Aryzta planned to alter small elements of its stand to render the space less of a check-the-box
booth and more of an experiential exhibit offering a rotating
menu of unexpected edible offerings.
A Tale of Two Seasons
To ensure Aryzta could show off the breadth of its creative
small-bite menu and test new items, the company divided
its 40-by-40-foot island exhibit into three spaces. A kitchen
with four to five cooks was hidden behind a tensionedfabric
wall at the back of the booth. On the public-facing
side was a vast pastry counter where Aryzta offered a
variety of doughnuts, Timbits, muffins, and cookies in a dazzling array of unconventional flavors ranging from piña
colada to pistachio. The company also served up samples
of potential new products such as protein cookies and a
"One of the big pushes every single year, this year included, is to out perform the year before. Aryzta wants to be the showstopper and create memorable attendee experiences."
The remainder of the booth had an open floor plan split
into two distinct areas. "Because the Tim Hortons brand
is known for its seasonal food promotions, Aryzta played
into the promotional theme by showcasing its gourmet
food products in different seasons," Wulfing says. One
side of the exhibit, then, was dedicated to winter-themed
fare, and the other side was devoted to summer. The wintry
half of the island featured vinyl flooring printed to look
like a slab of ice, and the back wall and side panels were
covered with frosty-white graphics. A set of leafless artificial
birch trees decorated with yellow Christmas lights stood
in one corner, and scattered neon lights cast cool blue
accents. Meanwhile, the summer side glowed with warmth
and color, courtesy of green AstroTurf flooring and a
brick-printed back wall that created the ambiance of a
summertime backyard cook-out. Warm wood tones and
lush artificial trees contrasted their winter counterparts.
Several traditional product displays along the exhibit's
edges highlighted Aryzta's offerings, but it was the inventive
flavors, promotions, and in-booth activities that took
the cake. Along both side walls were L-shaped counters
that hosted many of the unique events. For example,
during the first exhibit-hall time slot on day one,
the winter counter was staffed by a cook who
provided treats augmented with a dose of liquid nitrogen. During the first session, the cook injected Timbits
with a strawberry-flavored cream that was then flash
frozen, providing attendees with a cold snack that leaked
a fog of dissipating nitrogen. Visitors who returned for
the second session could create a sundae with a dish of
nitrogen-frozen ice cream topped with crumbles of bakery
items, fruit, nuts, and drizzles.
Food for Thought
Baked-goods provider Aryzta AG offered Tim Hortons Owners Convention attendees a steady rotation of unique experiences and product samples that prompted multiple visits to the company's booth.
To properly showcase its seasonal food offerings, Aryzta divided its exhibit into winter- and summer-themed spaces, each with its own decor and graphics.
During one product-sampling experience, attendees selected doughnut holes flavored with either strawberry or cayenne pepper filling.
Attendees who won a hand at Bakery Blackjack received a deck of branded playing cards.
The "Exotic Food Dice Roll" tested players' taste buds, raised money for a show-affiliated nonprofit, and drove traffic to the exhibit.
Some brave attendees munched on ants-on-a-log snacks topped with actual dead ants.
The dice roll helped Aryzta raise more than $10,000 for the Tim Horton Children's Foundation.
In-booth giveaways, including branded winter hats and sun visors, were just as seasonal as the exhibit.
For the evening session, Aryzta provided cocktail and
pastry pairings à la wine and cheese. One pairing featured
vodka-based frozen hurricanes accompanied by chocolate
fondue Timbits sprinkled with coconut flakes. And to keep things cool in more ways than one, the chilled concoctions
were poured down a Tim Hortons-branded ice luge.
Meanwhile, the exhibit's summer side featured a
chocolate fountain where attendees dipped uniquely
flavored Timbits and doughnuts, as well as tabletop grills
where staffers offered pastry and fruit kebabs for guests to
then drizzle with a selection of sweet syrups. As expected,
the frequent and consistent changes in flavors and styles
prompted repeat visits from Aryzta's target audience. But
even an evolving slate of edibles wouldn't be sufficient if
the company hoped to achieve its lofty goals.
Trick or Treat
Since this was the first time Tim Hortons hosted its convention
in Las Vegas, Aryzta offered casino-style games with a
few culinary twists to spice things up. For these activations,
Nimlok Chicago devised an 8-foot-long countertop positioned
between the seasonal spaces. Here, Aryzta offered
multiple gaming experiences throughout the show, two
of which tested participants' willingness to put their taste
buds (and gag reflexes) on the line.
"We want our customers to come back to our booth again and again to learn more about us, see what we're doing, and spend more face time with our team."
During the morning time slots, the table was set up for
an activity dubbed "Timbits Roulette: Hot or Not." Spread
across the table were about a dozen Timbits encased in
miniature domed cake stands. In addition to standard
flavors such as strawberry, Aryzta piped a handful of these
mystery Timbits full of more adventurous and unexpected
fillings, including a spicy cayenne-pepper cream. When
prompted, players stepped up to one of three stations,
chose an encased pastry, removed the lid, and took a bite.
"It was hilarious to watch people gasp when the heat
of the cayenne hit them, and that alone proved a powerful
traffic builder," Wulfing says. "Everyone was a trooper,
though, and ate them, and others kept stepping up for the
fun." Participants who were unlucky enough to select a
spicy morsel received a branded visor to help them cool
off, and those who consumed a cool strawberry-filled Timbit
received a logo-adorned winter cap to warm them up.
After a simple tabletop graphic switch, the gaming island
became Bakery Blackjack for the first afternoon. Players
tried their fortune against the dealer, and those with the
luck or acumen to win a hand received a branded deck
of cards featuring doughnut graphics.
The booth's overwhelming main attraction, dubbed the
"Exotic Food Dice Roll," was featured during the evening
time slot on the show's first day. With another new graphic
and bumpers added to the table, the gaming stand was
transformed into a craps-style activity, and a charismatic
employee-turned-emcee with a headset microphone
asked passersby, "Would you like to help raise money for
the Tim Horton Children's Foundation?"
Brave and witting participants stepped up and cast
a pair of oversized foam dice down the tabletop. Each
potential roll was paired with a corresponding small-bite
sample hidden under a lidded dish. Some items were
traditional bakery delights, while others were a bit more
unconventional. For example, the familiar snack known
as ants-on-a-log came with a throat-tightening twist: the
customary celery and peanut butter were topped not with
raisins, but with dead ants. Other rolls of the dice brought
forth chocolate-covered crickets or doughnuts with worms
cooked into them. And lest you think that some of these
devilish delights might not meet health codes, Aryzta
researched all ingredients to ensure they were safe for
human consumption. All guests also signed a liability
waiver prior to participating in the activity.
Knowing that even the most stalwart participants might
be tempted to opt out of their mystery morsels, Aryzta
amicably pressured them by pledging variable amounts of
money to the Tim Horton Children's Foundation depending
on the type of snack consumed. For instance, it would
donate $25 every time a player ate a traditional pastry, but
the donation jumped to $100 when an attendee successfully
downed an ants-on-a-log treat. For those willing to roll
the dice more than once and increase the chances of an
unsavory sample, the company would boost the pledge to
$300. Perhaps surprisingly, everyone who played ate their
edibles, and many returned to the booth with friends in
tow, using peer pressure and the promise of donations to
a good cause to incentivize their participation.
Icing on the Cake Doughnut
By the end of the evening, the Exotic Food Dice Roll
helped Aryzta raise more than $10,000 for the Tim Horton
Children's Foundation, surpassing one of the company's
key objectives by more than 66 percent. And despite the
back-of-the-hall location, the company's dichotomous booth
design was busy during all of the show-floor sessions.
What's more, attendee surveys – which also provided
Aryzta with feedback about past, upcoming, and possible
food promotions – found that roughly 85 percent of showgoers
knew the culinary company and could identify the
role it plays in the Tim Hortons franchise, which amounts
to a brand-awareness boost of 35 percentage points compared
to the previous year's convention.
The creative presentation of samples, flavor rotations,
and gamified activations seemed to have a positive impact
on booth visitors' participation as well. As a result of the
games, Aryzta distributed 200 decks of cards as well as
800 visors and winter hats, with a large number of attendees
returning to the exhibit multiple times. By taking a few fun
culinary risks and by demonstrating that its values align
with Tim Hortons', Aryzta provided franchise owners with
unforgettable experiences that are sure to make its brand
linger in their minds even longer than the taste of chocolatecovered
crickets on their tongues. E