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Marketer of the Year with No Online Strategy?

Marketing Magazine “recently named”: Tim Hortons as their 2004 Marketer of the Year.
Admittedly, Timmy’s has done a great job with their offline branding and the company is a success. But their “web site”: is pedestrian and for a company that outsells McDonalds in Canada ($2.5 billion to $2.28 billion) I would suggest slightly embarrassing. And I don’t think they have #ever# done any serious online marketing (“correct me” if I’m wrong).

My first thought in reading they’d won was “this could (and should) be the last year that a marketer without a serious online strategy gets named Marketer of the Year”.
But in reading the article this quote caught my eye:
bq. The company’s low-key approach reflects the fundamental brand character of Tim Hortons, which the marketing team sums up in one word: unpretentious. “In a way it’s really how you would describe a Canadian,” says Cathy Whelan Molloy, VP of brand marketing and merchandising. “We talk about it being unpretentious, friendly, honest, caring and dependable.”
It may be that someone at Tim Hortons believes that web sites are to high falutin’ for an unpretentious brand like theirs, but I find it hard to believe that there isn’t a way to effectively integrate online into the overall marketing mix for this brand without losing their “down-homeness”. After all if they can repeat dozens of sophisticated TV spots hundreds of times each week and be seen as unpretentious, can’t the web do the same or more?
So, I ask you dear reader, does Tim Horton’s deserve Marketer of the Year without a serious web strategy? Can one create an effective online strategy for a brand that looks to be down-home, local and unpretentious? Or is the best strategy in this case to stay offline?

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