- McDonald's and Heinz unveiled separate branded jigsaw puzzles to capitalize on a trend that's emerged as consumers look to occupy themselves during quarantine, according to press releases from the companies.
- Working with agency TBWA\Belgium, McDonald's Belgium created a 500-piece Burger Puzzle that reveals a detailed picture of one of the chain's signature menu items once completed. The brand is giving away 20 sets of the puzzle via an Instagram contest that asks users to share a post promoting the effort to their Story while tagging the @mcdonaldsbelgium account.
- The offering from Kraft Heinz Canada is intended to serve as the world's slowest puzzle, consisting of 570 pieces identically colored in the ketchup brand's signature red hue. Like McDonald's, Heinz is giving away the puzzle through Instagram, offering 57 versions to consumers across 17 countries. In Canada, local users can also comment on the official @Heinz_ca page for a chance to win one of 57 sets.
McDonald's and Heinz are both looking to create an entertainment outlet for consumers whose options are severely limited as shelter-in-place orders stretch on for months. The brands have the opportunity to provide a welcome distraction for those shut in due to the coronavirus outbreak, while still raising their company profiles at a time when more people are ordering delivery and takeout or pantry-loading packaged food products with a long shelf life.
Despite both marketers keying into the same jigsaw puzzle trend, each is taking a different approach. McDonald's is leaning into its core menu item, with the Burger Puzzle positioned as a means of stress relief. Heinz' deliberately "slow" puzzle, intended to mirror the slow pour of its ketchup, conversely seems engineered as a stress-inducing, time-intensive challenge, with hundreds of pieces that all look the same.
"Heinz is known for its iconic, slow-pouring ketchup. In a period when everyone has a little more time on their hands and puzzle popularity has skyrocketed, we wanted to help pass the time by connecting the two," Brian Neumann, senior brand manager, Kraft Heinz Canada, said in a press statement.
Jigsaw puzzles have indeed experienced a resurgence in consumer interest due to the coronavirus lockdown. Massachusetts-based Ceaco, one of the largest manufacturers of puzzles in the U.S., has seen sales spike up to 300% year-over-year in recent weeks, according to a report in NPR. Rival gamemaker Ravensburger has reported similarly stratospheric gains.
On the business end, Kraft Heinz has also felt a boost thanks to the coronavirus, as more consumers look to stock up on packaged foods and comfort meals like macaroni and cheese. The turnaround, which has led to record manufacturing outputs for Kraft Heinz, follows a brutal few years for the company, which wrote down the value of its legacy Kraft and Oscar Mayer brands by billions last February.
McDonald's pandemic outlook is more mixed as it focuses more on areas like delivery amid limited on-premise options. The chain saw earnings fall 17% in Q1, while U.S. same-store sales — a key metric of business health for restaurants — slid 13.4% in March, according to CNBC.