It was 1968 and a young boy by the name Wayne Gretzky got a taste of inspiration in his home town of Brantford, Ontario that changed his life forever – and the game of hockey. Tim Hortons [TCO] has rolled out a new emotional campaign to share the story of The Great One’s early days when Wayne’s mother, Phyllis, took him to meet Tim Horton at a local restaurant opening. The meeting ignited Wayne’s passion for hockey and inspired him not just to become a professional hockey player,
“When I was a young boy, I looked up to Tim Horton. He was an icon – one of the best Canadian hockey players of his generation. I would watch him play on TV and every night I went to bed thinking about being like him and playing hockey on TV,” says Wayne. “There have been many moments in my career that I will never forget, but the moment I met Tim in that restaurant, and he signed that napkin for me, it inspired me to believe that I could become a professional hockey player like him.”
To help capture this moment, Wayne Gretzky and Tim Hortons have partnered to create “The Autograph,” advertising spot which will be aired on TV during the IIHF Ice Hockey World Junior Championships in December 2019. On January 15, guests can find limited-edition tumblers featuring The Great One’s autograph and iconic number 99 at participating Tim Hortons [TCO] across Canada.
This heartwarming piece tells the true story of how a young Wayne visited a newly opened Tim Hortons to meet his hockey hero – Tim Horton. Wayne realized he forgot to bring something to get signed and a quick-thinking Horton grabbed a napkin and wrote Wayne, Best Wishes, Tim Horton.
Walter Gretzky, Wayne’s dad, has kept the autographed napkin for more than 50 years because it meant so much to his son. Walter, the ultimate hockey dad, is featured in the spot alongside Wayne sharing the napkin he has kept for over 50 years.
“To us, the story of Tim Horton and a young Wayne is extraordinary – when I heard it, I knew it was a beautiful and touching story,” says Paloma Azulay, Chief Marketing Officer, Tim Hortons. “The true story about the meeting between a Canadian hockey icon and a young boy who we would one day call The Great One was the start of something bigger than great – it was the start of something legendary. We’re so proud to have played a small part in such an important moment in hockey, and Canadian, history. We’re excited to share this story with a generation of Canadians who have been inspired by Wayne.”
The agency behind the ad recreated a 1960s Tim Hortons restaurant, replicating every detail from the sign outside to the napkins used at the time. Over 68,000 Canadian boys auditioned for the role to play young Wayne.
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