COVID case study: Heinz presents a pitch-perfect quarantine plan

by | May 19, 2020 | Analysis, Covid-19, Public Relations

With stay-at-home orders extending into their second month for many areas, it is essential that brands investigate how to pivot their messaging and stay relevant to their audiences. With its creation of a 570-piece puzzle colored entirely in “ketchup red,” Heinz has done exactly that.

The publicity stunt is the perfect gag for consumer audiences tired of staring at the walls

Heinz even pokes fun at how frustrating it can be to pour ketchup out of a glass bottle.

“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,” said Brian Neumann, senior brand manager at Kraft Heinz Canada. “This puzzle is worth the patience—only this time, you can’t hold it at the perfect angle to solve it.”

For avid fans of puzzles (and condiments), Heinz is giving away 57 of these puzzles in 17 countries through its social media channels, under the hashtag #HeinzKetchupPuzzle. All users have to do is tell the company who they wish they could finish the puzzle with.

COVID case study: Heinz presents a pitch-perfect quarantine plan

The campaign has already invited some heartwarming responses from passionate puzzlers

“We wish we could finish the #heinzketchuppuzzle with grandpa,” reads one response, “It would be the perfect jigsaw condiment to complement his fish and chips puzzle.”

“I would want to complete it with our beloved Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,” writes another user, “He’s done a fantastic job leading us through this crisis and deserves a break.”

While an excellent example of a tongue-in-cheek response to complex international challenges, the Heinz campaign is also a clever way of underscoring the iconic ketchup brand at a time when many shoppers are being forced to tighten their purse strings. Moreover, by encouraging responses on social media, Heinz has created a space for further engagement opportunities beyond the contest end-date of May 8.

Heinz is not the only brand to latch onto the rising popularity of puzzles amid stay-at-home orders. McDonald’s has also unveiled a limited edition, 500-piece Burger Puzzle throughout Europe so as to give consumers something to work on while they wait for outlets to reopen.

COVID case study: Heinz presents a pitch-perfect quarantine plan

Nonetheless, these campaigns from Heinz and McDonald’s shouldn’t be mistaken for altruistic attempts at keeping the masses entertained

The fact that both creations are being released to the public in limited quantities indicates that both campaigns are far more focused on PR goals than a long-term move into home entertainment products.

Given the resurgence of consumer interest in puzzles, however, a more permanent pivot may not be such a bad idea: one of the largest puzzle manufacturers in the US, Ceaco, has reported a 300 percent spike in sales in recent weeks, while rival manufacturer Ravensburger says its sales are up 370 percent.

With no one truly knowing what the rest of the year holds, this summer might just be the perfect time to try out the Heinz ketchup puzzle.

Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian founded 5WPR, a leading PR agency..


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