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Ideas. Insights. Inspiration.

Here's a Puzzle....


It's a 570-piece, all-red puzzle recently created by a brand as part of a marketing execution.


Pop quiz: guess the brand.


I'm willing to bet you can't do it just by looking at the puzzle.


Or even by thinking about what brand could be associated with an all-red puzzle.


Is it (RED)? Nope.


Coca-Cola? Nope.


Netflix? McDonald's? LEGO?!?


Nope, nope, and nope.


Unless you work in marketing and/or have seen the press around this stunt, I'm willing to bet you have no idea why any brand would create something like this.


And frankly, I wouldn't blame you.


I'm a big fan of creativity. Really, truly, I am. And this puzzle is a very creative idea.


It's just not good marketing.


Good marketing -- whether that takes the form of an advertisement, an experiential execution, a publicity stunt, a product package, an in-store experience, or something else entirely -- clearly communicates and directly reinforces the unique, differentiating properties of a product, service, or brand.


What's this puzzle communicating or reinforcing? Without the accompanying press, the answer is, "nothing".


Marketing that requires an accompanying explanation isn't good marketing.


And the idea clearly isn't differentiating; I listed five brands above, and any one of them could have pulled off this stunt with a semi-reasonable explanation as to why it works for them. (Netflix: "You've had enough binge-watching, try something different before you start a new series." Ten minutes into this puzzle, and an episode of "Too Hot to Handle" would feel like time well-spent.)


So... what brand commissioned the creation of this puzzle?


Heinz Ketchup.


According to this article, they did it because, "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.’


That's not a great explanation.


Unless Heinz is trying to say that anything slow-moving can be associated with Heinz... is that it?


How about a traffic jam. That's slow-moving. Is a traffic-jam Heinz-worthy?


My wife spent 22-hours in labour with our first child. Was that a moment that could have been brought to you by Heinz Ketchup?


"Slow" isn't what defines Heinz ketchup. It's "slow, but worth it". Cheesy as it may seem today, this Heinz ad from 1988 communicates that value proposition very well.


Doing a 570-piece, all-red puzzle is definitely going to be slow work. But is it "worth it"?


Call me crazy, but I don't think it is.


This would have been a better execution if the back of the all-red puzzle was a more traditional picture-puzzle showing an extended family around a huge dinner-table celebrating a special meal with Heinz ketchup. The all-red side of the puzzle would have still provided the challenge of a very difficult puzzle for those who wanted it, but the picture-side might have evoked a positive memory of a huge family get-together... and that's something that perhaps we're all missing as we continue to self-isolate.


Admittedly, that wouldn't have been as creative.


It just would have been better marketing.


- dp

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