Jigsaw puzzles have been around since the late 1700’s.  Though millions of Americans continue to enjoy doing puzzles, in today’s cluttered environment - when entertainment choices abound - we realized the survival of puzzles was contingent on a timely reminder of the unique satisfaction derived from putting the pieces in place.  To that end, Fleishman-Hillard and Williams & Company developed the Hasbro National Jigsaw Puzzle Championship, with the goal of tapping into the jigsaw puzzle subculture as a first step toward growing the category.  Using the Scrabble model, which uses tournament play as a platform to raise awareness of and interest in Scrabble, we set out to attract jigsaw puzzle enthusiasts from around the country.  Our long-term goal is to use this event to sustain and revive interest in jigsaw puzzling.   


As a brand new event, consumer awareness of the Hasbro National Jigsaw Puzzle Championship was non-existent.  We decided to select Chicago, an easily accessible city for our first tournament.  Keeping in mind that there is no one target audience for jigsaw puzzles - puzzle doers span age, education and are equally male and female AND that puzzle doing is considered a solitary and/or team activity, we had to construct our tournament in a way that would appeal to the wide variety of puzzlers.  To that end, our tournament featured three categories - solo 500-piece (open to those 18 and over), team 1,000-piece (two players 18 and over) and the family 550-piece (4 person teams with at least 2 players under 18).  As a further enticement, Hasbro put up more than $50,000 in prize money, with the top winners in each category receiving $10,000, 


Our clear goal was to attract as many participants and media as possible to our event as a first step to raise the profile of jigsaw puzzles and refresh interest the category.  We decided that a cause-related event would not only enhance media appeal, but would also provide a membership base for event volunteers.  In addition, we felt it was important to employ non-traditional public relations tactics to reach the jigsaw puzzle subculture and draw them to the championship.


The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana (RMHC) was secured as the event’s charitable partner.  The partnership included a RMHC spokesperson for media interviews and access to their membership base for volunteers; Hasbro Games in return donated $10,000 to help RMHC distribute grants to hundreds of not-for-profit organizations benefiting local Chicago children’s charities.  

The media landscape combined print, broadcast and Internet channels to reach the jigsaw puzzle consuming public.  Targeted outreach to major wire services, features editors at top newspapers, editors at puzzle and gaming Web sites, and Chicago daily, weekly and college newspapers, commercial and college radio stations and television network affiliates, produced significant pre-event media coverage in Chicago and around the country.


Two weeks before the event we were nearly 200 players short of the established goal.  In order to meet (and hopefully exceed) the goal, we fit the following pieces together to drum up incremental interest and attendance:

  • Ran a radio promotion on WTMX-FM, the number one adult contemporary radio station in Chicago
  • Created event postcards that were mailed to Bits & Pieces puzzle catalog subscribers in the Chicago-metro area (100 mile radius) 
  • Designed flyers and handed them out at highly trafficked commuting and popular lunchtime areas throughout Chicago


Close to 350 singles, teams and families competed in the first-annual Hasbro National Jigsaw Puzzle Championship, which met and exceeded the established goal of 300 participants.  A survey conducted at the event revealed that 60 percent of the participants were frequent jigsaw puzzle purchasers (more than 3 per year) and an overwhelming 89 percent enjoyed the experience and said they would attend another jigsaw competition; 87 percent said they would join a “Puzzle of the Month” club if it were offered.

The public relations initiative for the first-annual Hasbro National Jigsaw Puzzle Championship generated more than 14 million consumer print and broadcast impressions to date:

Pre-event media coverage included an August article in The Toy Book, an article in The Cincinnati Post, articles in Chicago-area weekly and daily newspapers including the Chicago Sun-Times and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and Public Service Announcements on Chicago-area radio stations, garnering more than 5.6 million consumer impressions.

A photo from the event ran on the national Associated Press (AP) newswire.

Post-event media coverage includes 91 B-roll hits, garnering more than 6million consumer impressions.  B-roll markets include Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston, Dallas and Washington, DC.

Print media coverage includes articles in the Chicago Sun-Times, Cincinnati Post, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and The Richmond Times-Dispatch garnering more than 2.7 million consumer impressions.  
Upcoming placements will more than double our current impressions and include articles in Readers Digest, The Washington Post and Games magazine.