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McDonald's and Heinz Are Giving Out Branded Puzzles on Instagram (and One Is Really Hard)

May 12, 2020 | Brendan Menapace

Despite living in a time where we have just about every movie ever made available at the click of a button, access to all of our friends and loved ones via video chat, and more advanced video games than the creators of Pong could ever have imagined, puzzles have been the star of quarantine.

I get it—it’s a task that occupies your brain and hands, and you can see it coming together in real time right in front of you. And then, when you’re done, you have a beautiful picture of a windmill or something nice and calming.

Or, in the case of some of the branded puzzles given out by companies as a means of advertising during the pandemic, you have a commercial for McDonald’s or Heinz Ketchup.

McDonald’s Belgium released a 500-piece puzzle of a burger that fans could win on Instagram.

“After six weeks of lockdown against the coronavirus, the boredom curve has reached a serious peak,” the company said in a press release. “No wonder the online sales of puzzles are going through the roof. Puzzling is the perfect way to kill time and calm you down in this stressful period. The first McDonald’s burger with not one or two but hundreds of pieces of meat. This yummy looking jigsaw puzzle counts 500 pieces, enough for hours of staring at ridiculously little pieces of melted cheese. Or does this one belong to the bun?”

The Heinz puzzle is a little more complicated. Kraft Heinz Canada released what it called “the world’s slowest puzzle,” which is made up of 570 pieces identically colored (ketchup color).

Heinz is also giving away the product via Instagram, with 57 versions across 17 countries.

There are a few levels to this. For one, it’s a way for brands to capitalize on a very unique time in history where people have the time and inclination to do puzzles en masse. There’s more demand for puzzles than possibly ever before.

The best part is that once they’re done, there’s an advertisement there in their homes. It’s a promotional product that involves work, so they’re not just going to throw it away or dismantle it right away. Heck, some people might even glue it together so it’s permanent.

It’s also a killer way to use social media, since that’s the only way to score one. Bonus points for the exclusivity factor, since there are only a handful of each to give away. That adds to the potential that people hold onto the branded puzzles for even longer. They’re collector’s items.

Finally, it really just enforces our ongoing thesis that fast food companies constantly have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to marketing. There’s so much competition, and they can’t just do the same meal toys forever. The brands are ubiquitous, but they’re constantly fighting each other for the spotlight at any given time. This one was some pretty quick and savvy thinking from McDonald’s.

There’s no doubt the others will follow up and try to outdo them, though. So be on the lookout.

What other old-timey toys could they use for this solitary time in our lives? Maybe that ball-in-a-cup game, but the ball is a Whopper. Or a Taco Bell-branded piano book, so you can finally use that keyboard you bought and swore up and down that you’d learn to play years ago.

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